2nd Sunday of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday; 11 April 2021; Bible Readings for Mass: I: Acts 4: 32-35; Responsorial: Psalm 118; II: I John 5: 1-6; Gospel: John 20: 19-31

Bernini – Crucifixion

Our journey with the risen Christ continues this second week of Easter. This Sunday is also recognized, by the Church, as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Devotion to the Divine Mercy of Christ was given to Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska in Poland from 1931 – 36. As is usually the course of our devotions there are questions and issues that could challenge some. However, the core message of faithfully seeking the Divine Mercy of Jesus is a message and value of great worth and brings us to the Scriptures of this day.

As is the norm during Easter all our Bible readings come from the New Testament (with the exceptions of the Responsorial, coming from the Psalms).

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, gives us a dynamic picture of the early church in Jerusalem. The faith community, although persecuted, was growing in numbers, and the faithful were of “one heart and mind” as they shared all they had with each other, and for God’s Kingdom. It was a time of great power as the Apostles shared, in word and deed, the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ. It was also an extraordinary testimony of the mercy of God. For these leaders of the early church had, just days earlier, fled their Savior and God in His passion. And for each of them, in real ways, their healing and forgiveness were found in His holy wounds.

The second reading from the First Epistle of John weaves for us the holy fabric of God’s mercy as a tapestry of faith, love, and obedience to Christ.

But it is in our Gospel, for this Easter Sunday, we see so clearly the mercy of Jesus shared with the disciples and particularly with Thomas who, without guile, and in honest doubt still sought Jesus whom he loved. The story of “Doubting Thomas” is familiar with most Christians. Perhaps it is because there are realities with which we can identify. Like Thomas most of us are, at times, encountering uncertainties, fears, and doubts. We long for clear tangible evidence of that which Jesus promises is….truth. This especially becomes an issue when confronted with the harsh realities of the world and the cruelty it can bring..the cruelty of the Cross.

It is vital to accept that Jesus did not reject Thomas for his imperfect faith. Christ did not condemn His struggling disciple trying to sort out the events, the teachings, the theologies and intense emotions with which he contended. Jesus came to Thomas as he was. It would have been so beautiful to have been in the rooms with the disciples as Jesus, again came in, past doors securely locked, and stood in their midst. And to see Thomas, with them, as he saw Jesus through his confused eyes of fear, and struggling faith. And then for Thomas to see the eyes of Jesus looking at him, with the holy gaze of mercy, peace, of welcome. And as Jesus saw Thomas he saw through the doubts, the fears, the worries to the disciple he had created and redeemed. And he saw a heart of longing faith hungering for…God. Jesus called Thomas to Himself and simply invited Thomas to see, to touch, to enter His wounds of holy love.

And it was as Thomas entered the wounds of His Savior he was healed. And it was as Jesus entered the wounds of Thomas he found the peace, the wholeness, the holiness, of love.

The story of Jesus and Thomas is one of the countless stories of God’s mercy. The greater the need, the conflicts, the sorrows the greater the opportunity for the mercy of Jesus to prevail. I believe it was no coincidence that the call to Divine Mercy was given to an uneducated nun in Poland as the horrors of World War II exploded. It is especially in lands and homes, minds and hearts, in conflict and fear that Jesus seeks to bring His mercy. The world, even the Church has souls lonely for peace, acceptance, and love. There is a famine of hope and mercy in so many lives. And if we deny God’s blessing and mercy to others it is to re-open the Wounds of Christ shared in the breaking of His Body and sharing of His Blood. The mercy, the blessings of God were shared by Jesus, not with the sinless or perfect. They, His holy wounds, were shared with…us.

There is a significant verse in the Epistle for today. It states: “And his commandments are not burdensome…”. As we seek the mercy of the Risen Jesus in our lives we need to remember that same mercy we need and seek is meant to be shared. It is also helpful to remember that about burdens… a burden is never heavy when it is made to be carried by someone else. We need to prayerfully look and understand that what we may impose, as essential upon others, if it is truly of God, would not be burdensome. May, what we share, help others know Christ and His mercy and the freedom of His grace.

The words of a Taize chorus (again, from Poland) can help us grow in the mercy, the forgiveness of our risen Lord and Savior:

God is forgiveness, God is forgiveness, God is forgiveness,

Dare to forgive and God will be with you.

God is forgiveness, God is forgiveness, God is forgiveness,

Love and do not fear. [Bog Jest Miloscia, Taize]