Sunday, April 15, 2012
Notes for Sunday within the Easter Octave
Notes on a Divine Mercy Sunday Homily
Today is a glorious day in the Church—it is the final day of the Easter Octave, the great celebration of the Resurrection, it is the feast of Divine Mercy…
Our Gospel today is SO rich. It speaks to the depth of the human heart.
Poor Thomas… He wasn’t present in the upper Room when Jesus first appeared to the other apostles. And he lived for a whole week with the others, feeling so alone in his disbelief. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” No doubt he LONGED TO BE FREED from this prison he built; no doubt he wanted to share in the JOY he saw in the others… Then Jesus appears a second time.
What does this powerful Gospel tell us today, on this Mercy Sunday?
1) St. John the Evangelist tells us: “Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” The Risen Christ has the power to enter the places of the heart which we keep locked up, out of fear. His love is not deterred by our stubborn lack of faith. He actively seeks us out to reveal to us His power and His love.
2) It is in spite of our stubbornness of heart that the Risen Jesus reveals His power. Love conquers all fear, St. John’s First Letter tells us. Jesus only invites us to look at His wounds and to touch them in faith. As He says to Thomas, so He says to us: SEE MY WOUNDS … look upon my RISEN BODY and see what GOD desires for you to BECOME. Forget your betrayals and infidelities. LOOK at ME.
Jesus reveals to Thomas and to us the beauty and the truth of our humanity. That even our many WOUNDS can become lifegiving … an opportunity for compassion, a door to let God into our lives again. Do not be unbelieving but belief. Because as St John tells us, our faith in Christ is our means of conquering.
3) Jesus can still be touched today. St. John of the Cross tells us that faith touches God (i.e., "Faith, ... gives and communicates God himself to us" [Spiritual Canticle, 12.4]. For this reason, Jesus says: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Brothers and sisters, our FAITH permits us to personally encounter God and to touch the glorious wounds of Christ. Faith brings us HEALING.
Those who refuse to believe outright are crippled by arrogance, unable to acknowledge whatever their minds cannot grasp. This is a GREAT poverty—to allow our tiny minds to be the measure of reality. Imagine a great athlete who has enormous physical ability but he believes he is paralyzed and cannot move. …It is not that our Christian faith is some kind Peter Pan optimism; but rather, faith acknowledges that reality in God is NOT bound by the limits of our understanding.
4) In Jesus, God enters the locked upper room of our heart and reveals His power to save us. Mercy brings LIFE and LOVE where there was NONE. Christ desires to enter the dark recesses of our hearts and to carry there the light of His love—He wants to free us from fear, from sin, from death. For this reason He accepted the Cross. In Blessed JP II’s encyclical, Dives in misericordia (Rich in Mercy), he writes: “The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man's earthly existence.”
Today, we celebrate God’s infinite Mercy revealed in Jesus Christ—may we not turn to this Mercy only for FEAR of God’s condemnation, but rather in order to return LOVE for LOVE. Let us turn to God is CONFIDENCE and LOVE and permit Him to live in our hearts.