Second Sunday of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday ~ 16 April 2023 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Acts 2: 42-47; Responsorial: Psalm 118; II: I Peter 1; 3-9; Gospel: John 20: 19-31

“Doubting” by John Granville Gregory

It is the Second Sunday of Easter, also celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. We have journeyed from the glorious celebration of the Lord’s resurrection last Sunday. We are now amid the season where the Holy Spirit seeks to mold and make us into the image of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. The holy mercies of Lent have given us renewed opportunities to grow in the tender graces of conversion and penance. And now the Holy Spirit brings us to a growing resurrection renewal.

The shared celebrations of Easter and Divine Mercy provide us a feast, provide us holy moments of life-changing and eternal hope and grace. Easter brings us the celebration of Spring for our souls and spirits. The warmth and sunshine after a long season of storms are, in many ways a holy chapter from the Gospel of Creation that beckons us to new life in our Creator, our Savior, Jesus. Yet for many of us, the days following Easter are difficult. It seems our doubts, worries, and wounds are all waiting to challenge our faith and cast clouds over the Risen Son. So it is in the enduring mercy of God we come to this time of touching wounds and growing in our trust in Jesus.

The Gospel of John shares the witness of the disciples in the days after Easter. “The doors were locked for fear…” makes clear that the disciples were struggling with fear, doubt, and their wounded faith. God understands and knows the times and places we find our lives encountering. The disciples were struggling to accept and believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. So it is with the lesson of Divine Mercy.

The servant of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina Kowalska perhaps did not fully realize the struggles to which she was called to respond. She came from a poor family and with little education, she entered the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy sisters in Poland. In the years 1931 – 1938, she received messages, and the image is now known around the world. Neither she, her sisters, nor the world realized that they would be experiencing a world of war very soon. In poor health, St. Faustina would battle her sorrows of ill health and die at a young 33 years of age. As it was with the early disciples, as it was for St. Faustina it would be in places of unknowing, fear, doubt, and sorrow that the eternal message and power of God’s mercy would grow. It is by touching God’s holy wounds we find mercy.

PLACES of WOUNDEDNESS… The early disciples, Thomas were locked behind their doors of fear and doubt. St. Faustina must have struggled with her lack of education and seeming abilities. But they all allowed the Risen Christ to enter their lives, their places of life. Very real for us are the locked doors of fear and doubt that can lock us into lives where we fail to realize the Risen Christ. But we are not called to dwell in these places. Instead let us seek Jesus to come into our hearts, through whatever locked places there may be.

LISTENING… As Christ entered anew into the lives of the disciples, and as he entered in new ways into St. Faustina they first listened to the risen Lord. To truly know and grow in Christ we must always be learning to listen to God. Jesus came Our first reading today speaks of how the early church listened, they studied the teachings of the Apostles. Those words would come to be the four Gospels and the epistles. Healthy believers and healthy churches are people who listen to the Word of God. For the disciples in the locked room the first words Jesus spoke, in great power, was Peace! The Word of God, when heard in the Spirit of God, brings peace into hearts and lives. Yet the disciples, for St. Faustina, needed to listen to the growing Truth who is Jesus. Rooted deep in Scripture the messages they heard resonated with the power of Christ, risen from the dead. St. Faustina would both see and hear the Presence and promises of God in ways that would change lives beyond anything she would imagine. A very real and powerful way to grow in the Divine Mercy we celebrate today is to pray and heed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. We hear and pray from the chaplet: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world.” It is in that prayer we can hear Jesus calling us to enter into and share in his passion, his wounds.

TOUCHING WOUNDS… The disciples in their locked room were freed to trust Jesus as they saw and experienced his wounds. Thomas with his doubts well-known would be called by Jesus to literally take his hand and place it in the wound in the side of Jesus and through which he would proclaim: “My Lord and my God! It would be millennia later that an humble nun would hear and see Jesus and from the same wound in his side shining forth rays of red and white light illustrating the divine mercy of God’s heart. Symbolizing the cleansing waters of Baptism and the shed Blood of our Savior the promise and power of God’s Divine Mercy shine and beckon with hope for all. It is like Thomas, it is like Sister Faustina we are each called to enter the wounds of Jesus. And we are also called to allow Jesus to enter our wounds. As we touch the wounds of Jesus and allow Him to enter our wounds, the passionate power of His mercy enters and floods our life. In and from these wounds we learn to proclaim, grow, and share: “Jesus, I trust in you.”