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Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin

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God’s mercy

2nd Sunday of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday ~ 2020

doubting-thom

Thomas placing his finger into the wounds of Jesus

[Scripture Readings for Mass:  I:  Acts 2:42-47;  Psalm: Ps 118:2-4,,13-15,22-24;  II: I Peter 1:3-9;  Gospel: John 20:19-31]

” Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” ~ John 20:26-28

These words from the Gospel of John give us one of the most profound illustrations and lesson of Jesus, the doubting of humanity and the Divine Mercy of God that resolves our doubts, if we will share the journey of the lesson.

The designs of the Holy Spirit are majestically clear on this Sunday following the joy of Easter.  As we continue, in the Church, to celebrate Christ’s conquest of sin and death we come, these seven days later to this celebration of His resurrection mercy.  It is the mercy-drenched wisdom of God’s Spirit that recognizes how difficult our Easter celebrations are as we daily live and confront our realities of human nature.  That first Easter the disciples were crippled in uncertainty and doubt.  They could not see the eternal reality of the Risen Christ in the fog of the reality of their human reason and weakness.  They all also struggled with their guilt, not trusting, not understanding the One they had called Lord.  Peter in particular, was bound by chains of doubt and remorse with his three-fold denial of Jesus the night of His arrest.  And as it was with the followers of Jesus then, so it is with His followers today.

This holy season of Easter, 2020, is especially bizarre.  Never has the entire world been battling a pandemic of such scope.  Never has the world been faced with economic upheaval of such depth as it battles this illness that destroys the basic ability to simply breath.  The scope of these tribulations are, for the faithful, intensified as the ancient practices of worship, community and support are under lockdown.  And it is vital to understand that even with those who may not share faith as we would, that their lives are just as difficult,  yet without the hope and assurance of faith, however perplexed it may be.

But again the fore-wisdom of the Holy Spirit in majestic compassion brings us the lesson for this time.  God recognizes our struggles, our perils.  God knows that many struggle for life itself.  God knows that many face hunger that have never known such need before in their life.  God does know and God is grieved.  And God also knows that for so many, even many who profess to follow Christ, that their faith has been strong.  But not in Christ.  For the faith of many has been placed in the gifts of God, instead of God the Provider.  Tragically, for many their faith is deeply rooted in…THINGS so they stockpile whatever they think they may need.  Or invested, alone, in science, technology and medicine as the savior for these troubled times, failing to recognize those gifts and disciplines are given by God for the good of all, not for the good of profit and power of the few.  Or their faith is in politics, in politicians, blindly trusting those who spew key words that will resolve their discernment without the help of God’s Holy Spirit.  And even for many who take great pride in their religion or their spirituality but disallowing any faith, any liturgy, different from their own.  Indeed God does know and is grieved this season of Easter, 2020.  And God sends the message, promise, power and hope of His divine, resurrection mercy rooted in the blood stained soil of the the Cross.  For as God knows God also sees beyond our sin to souls redeemed, set free…healed.

It is in the poignant story of doubting Thomas and Jesus we are given the way of God’s mercy that calls each of us, by name.  The risen Christ had appeared to the women who came to the grave.  Jesus appeared as well to the disciples always assuring and sharing His peace, His mercy.  Yet at the meeting with the disciples Thomas was unable to attend. So when he hears of Jesus coming to them he responds.  Thomas, ever pragmatic, honest, guileless, states that unless he sees the wounds in the hands and feet of Jesus, unless he sees and can place his fingers into the wound in the side of Jesus he would not believe.  [It is profoundly important that we, like Thomas, share our doubts, needs with God.  But we, like Thomas, must be prepared and willing to allow God to answer!]. A week later Jesus again appears to His followers.  This time Thomas is present.  Jesus calls him, by name, to come to Him, doubts, fears, human reason..wounds and all, “Thomas, Come”!  Jesus calls  and as Thomas comes engulfed in longing, doubt, fear, hope he sees Jesus opening His robe.  Thomas sees the wound in the side of Jesus…an open scar of love that will never quit. Jesus gently tells his friend, I sense smiling deep in His heart, to place his fingers in His side…..and Believe.  The response of Thomas shares so much…”My Lord and my God”!

We all would do well to quietly read and listen to God’s voice proclaimed in the Scriptures this day.  But especially in the story of Thomas we are given holy seeds of mercy and hope that will not fail.

We must allow ourselves to enter into the wounds of mercy of Jesus.  As Thomas, wounded, struggling, came to Jesus he placed his fingers into God’s wounds.  So it is with us when, in the Spirit, we hear Jesus calling us each by name.  We come to Him.  Let us each place our fearful, wounded lives deep into the wounds of our Savior.  Has our journey been one of painful wandering and woundedness?  Let us place our wounds of our  journey into His feet who came seeking for us.  Is our work, our life crippled by the circumstances of all that is happening?  Let us, in faith come, and place in the hands of him who embraced, yes hammer and wood, but even more, the lost and rejected and in those scars made by the nails find our peace and healing…find God’s mercy.  Is our heart a mess of uncertainty, exhaustion, loneliness or doubt?  Like Thomas let us listen as Jesus call us, by name, knowing all that is in our heart and come to Him whose heart was pierced by hate’s cruel spear.  And in whose heart we find our home of holy, majestic eternal love.

This Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, we gather, in spirit, to allow the many past feasts of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence to sustain us and nourish the hope of mercy that will gather us at His table once again.  And we gather to allow Christ to call us  each, individually, together, to Him and in His mercy be made whole.   And to share in the ways God will bring, the mercy and peace of Christ that is greater than any need, disease or sin.

devine-mercy-1

 

 

Risen Christ ~ Divine Mercy

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for this Second Sunday of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday:
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, also recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday {St. Faustina}. Our Bible readings share the rich and clear message of that holy mercy of God needed, found and lived in the hearts and lives of the early believers in the Risen Christ.
Most Christians at some point in their life have wondered and desired to have been able to be there, to see, hear and touch Jesus. It is in knowing that longing our Lord shared in John’s Gospel account a profound promise and blessing that even the very Apostles could not receive.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
This singular promise, this blessing, although given over 2000 years ago, is found and experienced in the same simple journey as those believers in Jerusalem those days following our Lord’s resurrection.

Risen Christ, His Mercy is Needed: The post-crucifixion disciples, fear-bound in doubt-locked rooms remained so until the Risen Christ brought His mercy to them.
Thomas the Apostle, known for his honesty caution and doubts needed the merciful encounter with his Risen Lord to be freed to become the Apostle of the East.
Sister Faustina, by the world’s standards trapped by a life of poverty and very limited education was to become the Saint of the Divine Mercy by her simple yieldedness to her Risen Lord.
And we today, bound by sin, by fears, pride, and doubts need Christ’s mercies that are as new this day as they were that first Easter over two thousand years ago.

Jesus Risen from the Dead is our Mercy Found: The faith of the early Church was loosed as they received Christ:
In His Word as they heard and received His Word of peace and purpose,
In the power of God’s Spirit & Peace, receiving living the life of forgiveness and sharing that same forgiveness in word and deed,
In His Wounds as Thomas presented the pattern and proof for all that as we enter the wounds of Christ His holiness, wholeness and love bring the mercy of the Father.

Jesus, Mercy, Lived: The early Church that we read of in our first reading from the Book of Acts is beautiful in the simple power of selfless love and faith. Dismissed by many as a fluke and experiment that failed it is in reality the pattern that is meant to be applied and lived by all true believers. While most will not live in a structured community of faith this pattern, when lived in homes, parishes, hearts and lives will allow the very real Presence and Blessing of the Risen Jesus, His Love and mercy, His power and peace to be lived, known and shared.

Whether we look to the example of the Apostle Thomas, from doubter and skeptic to the Apostle & martyr to the East; the early Church living in simple selfless trust and love; the 20th century example of St. Faustina; we hear and see the promise and call of our Lord to receive the blessing of His divine mercy and to then live that mercy in our deeds and words.

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