Lectionary 45; Gospel: John 20:19-31
A week ago we celebrated Easter and with great joy we sang our Alleluias, our churches were filled with white lilies and other Spring Flowers that were beautiful to behold and fragrant to smell. A week later, as we complete the Octave of Easter, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and reflect on the Sacred Triduum from this side of the resurrection.
In John 3:16 we are told the reason Jesus was born into the world, “for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, not to condemn us, but that we might have life.” As we look back at the liturgy, mystery and drama of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, we see how the love of God led Jesus to give us the Eucharist, suffer and die for us, and rise from the dead. Today’s Feast reminds us that although we are sinners and deserve punishment, God loves us and pours out his mercy upon us. A mercy that embraces us and fills us so not to leave us in a state of condemnation, but rather as new creations in Christ.
This mercy came at a great price, the death of Jesus on the cross. In the Gospel Thomas insists that he will not believe that Jesus is risen unless he puts his hand into the wounds of Jesus. The wounds are a permanent mark on Christ, even in his glorified body. When Jesus returns and beckons Thomas to place his hand in the wound where the soldier thrust his spear into his side to confirm that Jesus was dead. Thomas, instead, is moved to make an act of Faith, “My Lord and my God.”
The wounds of Christ show us all that he suffered for us. But it doesn’t appear that God counts the cost of his wounds, rather, he counts the souls that are saved by them. The image of Divine Mercy given to St. Faustina shows the water and blood flowing from the side of Jesus and radiating out to us. The Divine Mercy that flows from the wounds of Christ flows out to each one of us.
This Jubilee Year of Mercy is meant as a time to experience more fully God’s mercy. Special prayers, Pilgrimages, Holy Year Doors, Indulgences and the Sacrament of Confession are all there for us to experience great mercy God has for us. Hopefully we can, in some way, take part in these special opportunities for grace. Divine Mercy is poured out on us to purify us, bless us and to draw us closer to the beautiful love of God. It is also given to us to share with others so that we may be instruments of God’s mercy in the lives of those around us who are so desperately in need of mercy. An important element of this Year of Mercy is the call for us to rediscover the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. These are the everyday ways in which we can show to others, the mercy we have received from Christ. This Feast gives us the opportunity to review these Works of Mercy and consciously work at making them a part of our lives.
As we celebrate this feast keep in mind this simple prayer that is at the beginning of the Divine Mercy Chaplet; O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.