The Scriptures proclaimed this Sunday are not specific to this Celebration, as it is relatively new in our Liturgical Calendar. However, the “merciful love of God” is the central theme of the Bible. God is constantly showing us His faithfulness, compassion and mercy. “This Divine Mercy is compassionate love – a love that seeks to meet the needs and relieve the miseries of others.”
Because there were many misunderstandings about the practice of the Divine Mercy, as seen by Saint Faustina in her visions, it was stopped for several years. In 1979, the work of spreading the Divine Mercy devotion was finally resumed . The continuous support of Pope St. John Paul II was instrumental in this endeavor. In 1981, he published an encyclical letter entitled “Rich in Mercy….”he speaks of Christ as the incarnation of mercy, the inexhaustible source of mercy.”
On April 18, 1993, Pope St. John Paul II beatified St. Faustina at St. Peter’s Square. It was the first Sunday after Easter, the very day that we are to celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday, according to the revelations received by St. Faustina.
On April 30, 2000, Pope St John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina. She would be the first saint of the Jubilee Year. Again, this took place on Divine Mercy Sunday. In fact, the Holy Father announced during his Homily that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the entire Church. It had already been celebrated in Poland for a few years.
It is our duty to spread the message of the Divine Mercy, in the third millennium.
Let us now reflect on today’s reading within the context of the Divine Mercy Celebration. Timeless message of love and mercy! First we pray the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118) and we hear “His mercy endures forever” repeated three times. “My strength and my courage is the Lord…he has been my savior.” In other words, if we have the Lord in our lives, in our hearts, we should not fear anything…His mercy will be poured upon us. How very consoling and reassuring!
In the Second Reading, 1 John 5:1-6 it tells us that Jesus came through water and blood, not by water alone. Reflecting, now, on the meaning of the rays of the Divine Mercy Image, as revealed to St. Faustina, “the two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross…”
The Gospel reading from John 20: 19-31, tells us the disciples, the week after the Resurrection, were together in a room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came in through the locked doors, greeting them “Peace be with you” (a greeting often used during our Mass,) and showed them His hands and His side. But Thomas, one of the 12 was not with them that day.
The rest of the disciples could not wait to tell him about the visit of our Lord! When they were all gathered the following week, they did. What was his response? “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” What would your reaction, my reaction have been? I venture to say, the same as Thomas.
Jesus appeared again and after the same greeting “Peace be with you,” He went straight to Thomas and lovingly, mercifully, invited him to touch Him as he wished. He knew Thomas’ heart as He knows ours. Thomas ran toward the Lord and all he could utter was “my Lord and my God.” In other words, I am sorry, I believe with all my heart!
What do we learn from these scenes? Thomas was a man very honest with himself. He would not pretend he understood something he did not, nor would he state he believed unless he truly believed and neither should we! Thomas had to be sure but once he was, there was no wavering. This is the type of doubt which ultimately arrives at certainty! Once he was sure, there was no stopping Thomas. When we hear from his lips, “My Lord and my God,” we hear an acceptance that is certainty beyond any doubts.
We did not see Jesus when the disciples did. May the testimony of Thomas be an inspiring example for all of us. May the eyes of our Faith be keen enough that we are able to believe without reservation and may we make it our mission in life, to make our Resurrected Lord, as well as, His Divine Mercy, known and loved everywhere around us. “Peace be with you.”