Apr 23, 2017
Divine Mercy - Second Week of Easter
The Sunday after Easter we call Divine Mercy Sunday. 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, beckoned 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 wounded are not erased from our bodies, but purified, healed, given a new meaning. No more fighting, shouting - no more anger - peace at last - Christ has fought all our battles, and won.
It is no accident that this Sunday we call Divine Mercy Sunday. The actual picture of Divine Mercy is Christ himself. But this is not the simple theme for today's Sunday. Yes, we have concluded a Year of Mercy. Our Lord has always, is always and will always be merciful to us to approach him. Merciful love is at the "heart" of the nature of God's "personality". This is the "Age of Mercy".
Today's Gospel simply re-enforces this truth about God. Even after we betrayed our Lord and savior 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 takes the initiative and enters into our prison wanting to release us.
We can get so used to darkness. God’s mercy, his love is a tender light, for he never wants to scare us. He finds us often tired and vulnerable, hurting and even closed up inside ourselves. Even though we do not see him. He sees us, looks at us. And if only we could see how he gazes at us - not with pity. No. Something much deeper and heartfelt - Christ gazes upon us with a deep, deep tenderness. The gentle light he bathes us in is an embrace of peace. “Peace be with you”, “Do not be afraid”.
Having won his victory over the devil, over death, over sin, Christ enters into the place where his disciples have gathered - many of them are afraid and tired. There is probably embarrassment that they had abandoned him to the cross, that they ran away and hid. This is the same Christ who never received mercy when he needed it most. But now he returns, not to scold or to teach his disciples a lesson. Christ does not break down the door and shine a flashlight into our faces. No. He enters without disturbance. His presence communicates gentleness, mercy - the tenderness of God’s love even to the most hardened criminal or to the most shamefaced sinner.
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 the door of his heart securely closed. Even the talk of Christ’s resurrection could not unhinge him. It took Christ himself to do so. But before Thomas could experience the full effects of the resurrection of his Lord, he first had to reach out and touch the Lord’s wounds – he had to join his suffering, his hurt, his pain to Christ’s - not to experience the agony of crucifixion, but the tenderness of reconciliation and peace.
All of us must do likewise. If we don’t, then we are only forensic scientists looking at Christ's wounds and taking notes. No. Christ’s wounds are the tell-tale signs of a love and sacrifice for you and me. Christ's wounds, communicate not the horror of crucifixion, but beauty of the resurrection - the depths of his love that knows no limit. Christ is no martyr for love. In fact, he has defeated death itself and risen from the grave. He stands before you and me assuring us that we are sacred to him, precious in his sight. His only suffering now, is that we do not, at times, realize how wonderfully loved we are, even when we lock ourselves away in our own darkness.
Thomas was beckoned to reach out and join his own ugly wounds to the beautiful wounds of Christ. And maybe that’s why an image of divine love we often see is a heart radiating fire - It takes courage to put one's hand into a divine fire, but it takes faith to do so knowing that you will not be burnt. Courage and faith. Christ beckons us to have faith and be courageous.
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