Second Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday (Reflection)

For His mercy endures forever…

Acts 5:10-16, Ps. 118.2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Rev. 1.9-11A, 12-13, 17-19

800px-The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas_by_Caravaggio

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What is mercy? Well, let me ask you another question, in hopes that we discover the answer: Are you a “doubting Thomas?” If you are anything like me, there have probably been many times throughout your life where you could answer “yes” to that question. Especially in our world today, we tend to look for hard, physical evidence, looking for the scientific basis of this or that situation. But even more so, I think there is another reason why we can call ourselves, at times, “doubting Thomas.” It’s hard for us to believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, hung upon the cross for us, and not just us as a collective group, but for you and me individually, as if we were the only persons in existence. Even though it is only a week after we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord, we might have doubts and questions! But this is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, to serve as a reminder that all of us have received the free and unmerited gift of His mercy, that His triumph over death is real, if only we are willing to accept it. We see this in our first reading as the “believers in the Lord” were gathering: even though they were sick and maligned, “they were all cured”[1] 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.”[2]

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!”[3] 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.

Divine Mercy

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.”[4] 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.”[5] 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.”[6] 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.[7]

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.”[8] 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.[9]


 

  1. [1] Acts 5.16
  2. [2] Psalm 118.15
  3. [3] John 20.26
  4. [4] Pope Francis, Misericordae Vultus
  5. [5] Rev. 1.17
  6. [6] John 20.27
  7. [7] CCC 1988
  8. [8] Collect for 2nd Sunday of Easter, Yr. C
  9. [9] Ps. 118 and Response

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