For His mercy endures forever… at the hands of the apostles. Nothing was asked of them but faith in Jesus Christ, and nothing more is asked of us in order to find true healing. All we have to do to accept this gift of mercy is proclaim Jesus as the one who triumphed over death, and to embrace that “[our] strength and [our] courage is the Lord.”
So let’s return to the image of the doubting Thomas: where can we find mercy? A doubting Thomas looks for the proof, and finds it difficult to accept in faith, something that many of us may be able to readily identify with! The beautiful reality, brothers and sisters, is that He brings the proof to us; He meets us right where we are at, with all of our sins and failings, inviting us to something more, something beautiful and glorious. This is mercy! When Thomas expresses his doubt, the Lord, in His mercy, approaches him and invites Thomas, invites him!, to bring his hand and place it into the Lord’s side. Only then, when Thomas is able to physically touch the Lord, does He exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” The Lord knew Thomas, and knows us, and just as he knew that Thomas needed that moment of physical touch, so too does He know exactly what we need in order to experience and accepts His grace and mercy. Mercy is the Lord reaching out to us.
Pope Francis describes mercy as, “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” But we do not build this bridge; it is Christ’s mercy, Christ’s bridge, that brings us closer to Him. Just as the Lord knew what bridge had to be built for Thomas, namely showing him and allowing him to feel the wounds in His side, He knows as well just what form the bridge needs to take for us, but we have to be willing to cross it to accept His mercy.
But where is our bridge? Of course, each one of us experiences Christ’s everlasting mercy and love in a unique manner, but it all flows from one place: from the sacraments, from confession, and most especially, the Word made flesh on the Eucharistic table. It is here that He calls to us and tells us, “do not be afraid.” In His mercy, He provides the bridge, beckoning us to open our hearts to being led across, telling us, “do not be unbelieving but believe.” The gift is there waiting for us; we just have to accept it. When we do cross this bridge, we die to sin, and are born to new life.
So brothers and sisters, the Lord invites you and me, as He invited Thomas, to a deep and personal encounter with Him. This encounter, which takes place especially in the Eucharist and Confession, is one where we will discover the mercy of Christ, “by whose Spirit [we] have been reborn and by whose blood [we] have been redeemed.” Let us “receive the Holy Spirit”, inviting mercy into our lives. As we profess our faith, let us keep the Easter acclamation, “Alleluia!” in our hearts, minds, and actions, proclaiming to the world that His mercy endures forever, and His love is indeed everlasting.