Apr 20, 2012

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Gospel begins with the darkness of the evening of Easter Sunday.  Despite the closed doors, the man they left to die on the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb, now stood in their midst risen from the dead showing them the wounds of his crucifixion with the words of “Peace be with you”.

In this context, these five deep scars demonstrate, not man’s inhumanity to man, but God’s mercy like shafts of light reaching out to the whole human race.

It is no accident that this Sunday we call Divine Mercy Sunday. The image of Divine Mercy is one that we make available today. It is the resurrected Christ who assures us, that even after we have betrayed our Lord and savoir by our cowardly faults and sins, and in our guilt find ourselves, like the apostles locked up in a dark room of our choice, he enters into our darkest prison to release us.

And as if to make this point through an example, we are told about Thomas, who was called “the doubter”. It seems that he was determined to keep his heart securely closed. Even the talk of Christ’s resurrection could not unhinge him. It took Christ himself to do so.

Before Thomas could experience the resurrection of his Lord, he first had to reach out and touch the savior’s wounds – he had to join his suffering, his hurt, his pain to Christ’s. Only then could he be one with Christ, not just in his death, but also in his resurrection.

Thomas could only have been moved to put his hand into the open side of the Risen Lord, by Christ’s initiate, not his own (cf. Sixth century Song of Romanus Melodus). For this reason, the image the Church has adopted of Christ’s Divine Mercy shows a light that, while coming from the sacred open side of Christ, it also allows us to be drawn by that same light into its very source.

Here we can grasp the secret of divine mercy, the understanding that in Christ’s light, our own wounedness is not erased from our bodies, but purified.


The Gospel today ends with “Blessed are those who can not see but yet believe”. It is a reminder to us that even in a world where we experience much darkness, we must never allow it to intimidate us to the point of despair (cf. St Ambrose’s sermon "Blessing Hidden in Suffering", Duties of the Clergy).

Like St Thomas, we must allow, if not expect, our faith to be tested and purified (cf. Second Reading). For if we endure in perseverance and continue to love Christ, even though we do not see him, think of how much we will love him when we do see him, face to face in all his glory. This is Christian hope.

CCC 643-45, 659, 730, 858, 976,
1087, 1120, 1441, 1461, 2839

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