Sunday of Divine Mercy
Second Sunday of Easter
April 8, 2018
St. John Paul Il, while Bishop of Rome, declared the Sunday after Easter to be “Divine Mercy Sunday.” This is certainly the appropriate time of the liturgical year for our thoughts to linger on “The Mercy of God.” The Father gave The Son as the spotless, sacrificial Lamb. On Good Friday, on the altar of The Cross, Jesus was offered up in reparation for the sins of the world. The Paschal Mystery is God’s perfect expression of forgiveness and love.
Our First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes a faith community that mirrors Divine Mercy. There, we hear that the community of believers was of one heart and mind. Their generosity and care for one another is nothing short of inspiring. But, considering that many of these first Christians knew Jesus personally, and might even have been among the Easter witnesses who experienced the Risen Christ, it is easy to understand how they could live out the Law of Love so dramatically.
But, before they were able to put The Lord’s teachings into practice, the disciples needed first to escape the “Upper Room.” Easter night found them behind locked doors. Fear had caused them to seek refuge in the very place where the Lord had gathered them for His final Passover meal. Even after Christ mysteriously breached the false security of the “locked door,” revealing His resurrected life to them, it appears that their fears remained. A week passed, and they were still hidden behind locked doors. This time, Thomas was with them.
Thomas voiced doubts that were quite possibly shared by the others who were still “locked behind closed doors.” Fear holding them within the perceived security of the Upper Room might also have kept them from expressing their feelings and doubts which remained locked in their minds and hearts. Thomas had the courage to speak.
The Risen Christ, showing the fullness of Divine Mercy, did not rebuke Thomas for his doubts. Instead, Christ invited him to reach out and touch resurrected glory. Christ’s wounds had been transformed; no longer gory scars memorializing the brutal and violent death, but now radiant evidence of unconditional love and infinite mercy.
Over 2000 years have passed since the Risen Christ appeared to His followers to calm fears, strengthen faith, rekindle hope, and resolve doubts…and to proclaim in the most dramatic fashion the Father’s love and mercy. But still, even to this day, many remain hidden within the false security of upper rooms.
Today’s Readings work together to reassure us that Jesus is alive and walks among us, inviting us to reach into the very depths of His Risen Glory so that we might no longer be unbelieving but believe…no longer be fearful but be courageous…no longer be isolated in our upper room but come down and join the other disciples in our proclamation that Christ has died, Christ is Risen, and Christ will come again.