Feast of Divine Mercy. 2nd Sunday in Easter. April 23rd. 2017
Today’s Gospel contains the most complete acknowledgement of Jesus’ divinity found on the lips of anyone in the Gospels; namely, “My Lord and My God.” These words of course came from the one who at first “doubted” the resurrection of our Lord—Thomas. Before we are too harsh on Thomas for at first doubting, we have to remember that like the others, the crucifixion deeply affected Thomas; it was a traumatic event in the lives of the friends of Jesus; they had been deeply wounded by the horrific events of the passion and death of Jesus. They had lost the One they had placed all their hope in and so they had lost their hope as well. They had no peace; they were living in great fear.
For his part, Thomas knew without a doubt that Jesus had died; and he was of course right, Jesus had indeed died. By the way, Jesus didn’t “pass away,” He died.—a sword piercing His heart, to ensure that He was indeed dead—all the blood and water flowed out of Jesus Body. And now, Thomas is being asked to believe the seemingly unbelievable, that Jesus is alive.
Thomas’ dearest friends say to Him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas is being asked again, not only to believe in Jesus, but in the midst of his pain to renew his hope and place all his trust in Jesus anew. But so wounded is his own heart, that Thomas can only cry out, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
To strengthen Thomas faith, as well as our own in the resurrection, to strengthen our own hope and trust, Jesus tells Thomas, “Put your fingers here, and see my hands; and put your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” It is before the wounds of Christ, still visible and still present on His Resurrected body—a body that is physically and truly present before Thomas, it is before these sacred wounds that Thomas is able to surrender his own wounds so as to believe again, trust again. And so, Thomas in his brokenness falls on his knees before Jesus and in a great act of faith, surrenders himself to Jesus responding,“My Lord and My God.”
It is no coincidence, that this Gospel story of Thomas and his great struggle to believe again, to trust again, is read on Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus today, comes to us, as He did to Thomas, in order to give us Peace. Jesus comes to us on this Divine Mercy Sunday, no less than He did to Thomas, in His Resurrected Body, a Resurrected Body still bearing the same wounds that Thomas was asked to place his fingers into in order to, “be not unbelieving but believing.
Jesus today at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass we attend, comes to us in order to heal our wounds, wounds that have come from the trauma in our own lives, trauma that ultimately has it cause in sin (all pain and suffering as its origin in sin), in the sins of the whole world, in our own sins or in the sins of others. This trauma has caused great wounds, great suffering and even “death” in our own life. We too can be living in great fear, too afraid to face our selfs and our sinfulness and seek His forgiveness, to place all our trust in Jesus and to surrender our lives by offering our all, our total self to Him at Holy Mass.
Be not afraid! Our Easter joy comes from the fact that Jesus has come and continues to Come through the Sacraments in order to take away our fear, to restore our faith, to strengthen our hope, to transform and heal our wounded hearts and lives by His loving presence…for, “Perfect Love Casts our all Fear…and Jesus is Perfect Love.
In this we discover Jesus doesn’t come to take away our wounds, but to transform them by His own suffering and death so that our wounds, our suffering and even our death, our entire lives, our hearts, can be like His, and so become instruments of His Divine Mercy and Grace for the whole world. This is the meaning behind the image of the Divine Mercy. So, “Cease your cries of mourning, Wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward…There is hope for your future.” (Jeremiah 31:15-17). This hope stems from the fact that the Resurrected Jesus is still in our midst!!!
And so, the Divine Mercy image is really a image of the Holy Eucharist—the Holy Eucharist is, IS, the Risen Lord still among us. And so, we can’t stop with the Image. It has been given to us, in order to lead us to the reality of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. The Divine Mercy Image is an image of Resurrected Lord, who still bearing His wounds, comes to us in the Holy Eucharist, comes to us no less, no real, than He did to Thomas and the others in the Upper Room. In fact, on this past Holy Thursday we celebrated Liturgically that at the Holy Mass we too are transported, are made truly present in the upper room with the Twelve. On Good Friday we celebrated that at Holy Mass we too are made truly present at the Crucifixion, present at passion, suffering and death of Jesus. And on Easter Sunday, we celebrated the fact that at the Holy Mass we too are made present truly and really at the first Easter Sunday before the Risen Lord, and He is made truly present before us in His real Resurrected Body in the Holy Eucharist, along with His Blood, Soul and Divinity—the Whole Jesus!
In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus in His wounded body, comes to heal our wounds in order to bring us His peace. Speaking of this peace, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, once said:
“In His two appearances to the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room, Jesus repeats several times the greeting, ‘Peace be with you’… It becomes the gift of peace that Jesus alone can give because it is the fruit of his radical victory over evil… For this reason Saint John Paul II chose to call this Sunday after Easter ‘Divine Mercy,’ with a very specific image: that of Jesus’ pierced side from which blood and water flowed.”
The Image of Divine Mercy was painted after a vision of the Lord that St. Maria Faustina Kowalska had of Jesus. Jesus appeared to Her and commanded that she have a image painted of what she saw. She later wrote of the vision:
“I saw the Lord Jesus dying on the Cross amidst great suffering, and out of the Heart of Jesus came the two rays as are in the image.” (Diary of St. Faustina, 414)
“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… Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter…”(Diary, 299)
When we come before the Holy Eucharist, these rays of mercy and grace truly stream from the wounded heart of Jesus. From the Eucharist flows rays of unfathomable Love and Mercy. When we repent of our sins and seek forgiveness for them in the Sacrament of confession, we open our hearts to these healing rays of God’s mercy and love. His Mercy and Love begins to transform the wounds in our lives. We are to more firmly say, , we find comfort in all our anxieties and fears, we experience the Peace that only the Eucharistic Jesus gives us.
In the embrace of this Peace we begin to more fully share in Chirst’s own Victory. Our wounds become our victories, battle scars in the Lord, for our too bear in our lives the wounds of Chirst Himself. We find strength in our wounds through the wounds of Christ. We can then cry out more boldly, “Jesus I trust in You; Jesus I trust in You; Jesus I trust in You!!!
I trust in you enough to offer my Heart totally to you; I trust in you enough to place my heart on the altar at Holy Mass, so that my wounded Heart may be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit becoming one with your Heart, and through you, with you and in you, offered up as a loving oblation to the Heavenly Father, in atonement for my sins and the Sins of the whole World. We then become instruments of the Father’s mercy and the Father’s love to the wounded and despairing souls that He places in our lives. This by the way, is what I believe Pope Francis was trying to say, when He said the Church must become more and more a Field hospital for the wounded in this world. Dress the wounds first! Dress them with the love of Christ alive in us, with Christ alive in us, so that He, through us, can begin to heal their wounds through our wounds.
In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus indeed opens His Heart as a living Fountain of Mercy. Oh that all souls may draw near to this Eucharistic Heart, pierce for love of us and made truly present for us at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and draw life from It. “Oh blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of Love and Mercy for us and for the whole world, I trust in Thee. (3Xs). Tutus Tuus Maria…All that I have I offer it to you, present it to your Divine Son. Amen!