Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
Weekend of April 27-28, 2019
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
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!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Today, the Second Sunday of Easter, is Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Gospel reading from St. John is often called the story of “Doubting Thomas” but the passage involves so much more than the encounter with the skeptical apostle. It is rich with lessons of Christ’s mercy to all, including an encouraging word from our Lord especially for us, His modern-day disciples.
While Thomas traditionally takes all the bad rap for his doubts, we see that none of the Apostles were at their best when Christ first appeared to them after His resurrection. They were actually in hiding, cowering behind a locked door, paralyzed by fear and doubt.
But Jesus appeared right in their midst in spite of the lock on the door. Was it to rebuke them for their lack of faith? Quite the contrary.
He comes on a mission of mercy. He comes to offer them peace and the restoration of their relationship with Him. And even more, He commissions them to become ministers of His mercy, by giving them authority to forgive sins. At that moment Christ gives to all of us the supreme gift of mercy — the sacrament of Reconciliation. What a precious and powerful gift!
This Sunday is a perfect time to reflect on how well we make use of this gift. Do we really appreciate its healing power? Could we become better stewards of this gift by going to Confession more often? We must also reflect on how well we extend mercy to others as Jesus did to Thomas that day.
Let’s commit ourselves to becoming faithful disciples and stewards of Christ’s mercy. We will be those very ones to whom Jesus gave a “shout out” during His encounter with Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” — in His merciful love.