Divine Mercy Sunday [B]
Acts 4:32-35 + 1 Jn 5:1-6 + Jn 20:19-31
April 8, 2018
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
As today’s Gospel passage begins, three things have taken place. Both Peter and John have seen the empty tomb, John has believed in the Resurrection, and Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus had appeared, has told the apostles of His appearance. Yet despite all this, “the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews.”
Consider a very simple question: why were the disciples afraid of the Jews? Why weren’t they out on the streets, preaching boldly the Good News of the Resurrection, shouting “Alleluia!” to everyone they met?
The story of St. Thomas’ unbelief in today’s Gospel passage seems to condemn him. But this passage in fact condemns all of the apostles: either for not believing in the Resurrection, or for not proclaiming their belief in the Risen Jesus.
The Season of Easter—which began last Sunday and lasts for seven weeks—is a season which lets us reflect on the Resurrection. At the same time, we need to ask ourselves what our lives should look like because we believe in the Risen Jesus.
A simple description of the Church in her infancy is given in the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles: “The community of believers were of one heart and one mind”: that is, they possessed the heart and mind of Christ. “With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great respect was paid to them all.”
A simple description of the life of the Christian is given in today’s Second Reading from the First Letter of Saint John: “The love of God consists in this: that we keep his commandments. … It is the Spirit who testifies to this and the Spirit is truth.”
The world has problems, and each of us who lives in the world has problems. There is a lot in our lives to distract us, to tempt us to think that the sin and evil around us and within us is nothing of importance. But the Holy Spirit whom we wait for during these fifty days of Easter leads us to face our own difficulties and the difficulties of the world squarely, looking them in the eye through the light of Christ.
When Christ appeared to the apostles, what did He say to convince them who He was? Did He work a miracle? No. He showed them the wounds in His side, hands, and feet: the battle scars from His fight with death.
Christ, the victor over death, shows us the evidence of His Divine Mercy. He invites us to share in the strength of His Body and Blood, and invites us to share fully in the life of His Holy Spirit. Yet these invitations serve a larger purpose. God wills that each of us might courageously proclaim the Good News about the Risen Jesus. But our proclamation must begin with our extending Jesus’ Divine Mercy to our debtors as willingly as we have accepted Divine Mercy for our own debts.