A Reflection by Fr. Kingsley for 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) (Year B).
Acts 4:32-35 – 1John 5:1-6 – John 20:19-31.
Today, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday.
Now that the solemnities of the Lord’s Passion have been concluded, and those of His glorious Resurrection have begun, the Church calls us to celebrate joyfully the fullness of what happened when Jesus gave Himself for us. While Our Lord was hanging dead on the cross, His heart was pierced with a lance by a soldier. Blood and water flowed out from Jesus’ side (Jn 19:34). Of these two substances, Blood is for redemption, to deal with sins (Jn 1:29; Heb 9:22), for the purchase (literally “acquire for Himself”) of the Church (Ac 20:28); and Water is for imparting life, to deal with death (Jn 3:14-15; 12:24) for irrigating and cultivating the Church (Eph 5:29-30).
On the one hand, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ takes away our sins, while on the other hand it imparts life to us. His death redeems us and gives us life. The Synoptic Gospels highlight the redemptive aspect of Jesus’ Passion, but John’s Gospel emphasises that Christ endured His Passion both to redeem us (through the blood) and to impart new life to us (through the water). This salvific Blood and water from the side of Christ encapsulates His divine mercy, which is why the rays from His heart in the Divine Mercy image are red representing His Blood and white representing the water.
Here is a précis of what God has accomplished for us in His Divine Mercy. God sent His Son to take the punishment we were due for our sins and to overcome death for us. We could do none of that ourselves. Christ gave His life for us. Through the Blood and water flowing from His side, we were redeemed and cleansed of our sins and given the new life of grace. The Blood and water from His side brought God’s redemptive and salvific work to completion. All who incline to the mercy of God, and all who are open to His mercy, find it.
When I look at the story of Thomas in the Gospel reading. I see him from the point of view of representing all those whose life experiences, hardships, broken relationships, and so on, make them doubt God, get angry with God, and/or fail to be convinced that God’s word is true. I see in Thomas all those who are so hard-hit by life experiences that they have lost hope, have nothing to look up to or look forward to, and perceive divine help and salvation as being either impossible or next-to-impossible.
Thomas had seen the Lord, whom he loved deeply, die a shameful death, crucified between two common thieves. A few hours earlier, they had abandoned him, Peter who promised fidelity to Jesus denied Him three times. Thomas must have been disheartened and disillusioned by Jesus’ death. No wonder he was angry when the Ten claimed to have seen the Lord (v.25) in his absence. He didn’t know whether the Ten were pulling his leg or whether he alone had missed out on a miracle, so no wonder he was hard-hearted and unwilling to accept their witness. When Jesus appeared to the Eleven disciples in the Upper Room a week later, it was to draw Thomas to belief in the Resurrection and to reincorporate him into the community. Thomas was the one disciple whom Jesus invited to put his finger into the holes in His hands, and His side from whence the ocean of divine mercy flowed. The mercy of God is freely available to all who are lost, that they may reach out for it, believe it to be true, believe it to be for them, and be saved.
Just like St Thomas during the week after the Resurrection, there are many in the world today who do not have faith in God’s goodness, mercy and love. There are many in the world today who do not believe in the Faith treasured and professed by the Church. Let us pray that ways may be found for them to discover God’s mercy for themselves and to rejoice in it. Just as Jesus willed Thomas to reach out to the fount of mercy (as Sr Faustina described it in her Diary entries 186-7), let us pray that Jesus may give these people experiences that will spark off the fire of faith in them, so that they too will declare Him joyfully my Lord and my God (v.28).
For us as individuals, our faith involves an ongoing pilgrimage through life. We encounter stumbling-blocks along the road when our minds are darkened and our vision of God is blurred by clouds of doubt and puzzlement. We can take confidence from the unalterable fact that the risen Christ is a permanent presence in our midst – as he was with the early Christians – and that He calls us to live out our lives in His mercy. It is through belief in His mercy that we enter into a relationship with Him and enjoy the new life which He offers us.
Living-out the life of mercy is what the Church expects of us. Remember the Corporal Works of Mercy, which include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, giving alms to the poor, visiting prisoners (there are many forms of imprisonment, aren’t there?), sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and burying the dead; and the Spiritual Works of Mercy, which include admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counselling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries and praying for the living and the dead. We need to incorporate these Works of Mercy into daily life because they command of us the sacrifices we can make for the good of the community, as did the early Christians in the 1st reading. Let us showcase the mercy of God by carrying out works of mercy for His sake (Mk 10:29).
Your kindness today can be a springboard enabling someone to see the loving-kindness of God for them. Your life of mercy today can be the reason behind someone who previously did not believe in God & His merciful love coming to faith in Him. I encourage us today to be merciful as [our] heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36) and to love as God loves us (Eph 5:2). Pray for one another (Jas 5:16), and pray for sinners to repent and return to God (1Jn 5:16). Remain in God’s mercy (Jude 1:21). Amen. God bless you.