May 26, 2017, 1:25 pm
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I trust in you

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 nailmarks 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.

***

Shalom must have been the first word the apostles heard from the Risen Christ—and, if seeing their dead-until-now Lord weren’t stunning enough, the shalom would surely have made hairs stand to their roots. To hear the word “peace” at this point must certainly be surprising; after all, the apostles had abandoned their Master to his death and scampered away to save their own skin. Jesus had to say the word twice. This word does not only initiate reconciliation: it is also a wish and a prayer that the other person may receive from God the best possible blessing. The apostles could hardly believe their ears! Jesus comes back alive, breathes on them the Holy Spirit, and commissions them to continue the work Jesus has begun with them!

The apparition is too good to be true that Thomas, who was absent on this occasion, thought his fellow apostles were only making up this story. We could not blame Thomas since he saw with his very eyes how Jesus agonized on the cross for three hours, bathed in blood—a crown of thorns on the Master’s head, a deep wound on the side and nail marks through the hands and feet. How could Jesus have possibly bounced back to life after these terrible wounds?

The risen Christ shows his mercy on Thomas by appearing to him and to the other apostles without any rancor. After a greeting of peace, Jesus shows his hands and his side to Thomas.

Thomas’ profession of faith in Jesus is always recounted every second Sunday of Easter: “My Lord and my God!” Thomas and the other apostles grappled with their faith in the resurrection of Jesus. They were also bedeviled by their own shortcomings, haunted by their guilty conscience for not having stood up for Jesus when he was led like a lamb to slaughter.

Today’s Gospel is a profound source of reflection for today’s Feast of the Divine Mercy, as we celebrate God’s forgiveness and love. Jesus’ mercy is in fact compared to an ocean because his sense of compassion for weak human beings is inexhaustible. The feast was officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000 when on the same day he canonized Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who became the proponent of the devotion to the Divine Mercy. In 1931, the Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina in a vision whereby she saw Jesus in a white garment with his right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching his garment near his heart, whence two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. At the crucifixion, when Jesus side was thrust with a lance, blood and water burst forth. These two liquids stand to symbolize for us two important sacraments which nourish our Christian life: Baptism and the Eucharist.

There are five main forms of the devotion to the Divine Mercy: the first is the Divine Mercy image with the specific inscription “I Trust in You.” The second is the Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated every second Sunday of the Easter season; the third is the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy; the fourth is the Three O’Clock prayer; and the fifth—the most universal of all the forms—is the propagation of acts of mercy to the whole humanity. It is always good to ask ourselves: after God has shown me his mercy, what concrete acts of kindness or mercy have I done for a neighbor recently?

***

– Fr. Paul J. Marquez, SSP
– (April 23, 2017)
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