03 April, 2016

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (C) - Divine Mercy Sunday


John 20:19-31
Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” John 20:27
In today’s gospel we see how the Apostle Thomas reacts at seeing the risen Lord; how he is restored to faith by the sight of Jesus’ wounds. But our focus should be placed not on him or any other of the Apostles; it should be placed on Jesus, on how and why he engages with this hesitant, doubtful disciple. It would be easy to expect Jesus to reject Thomas in his incredulity, but this is not what he does. In fact, Jesus does not reproach Thomas for wanting proofs, he doesn’t shy away from his enquiries; instead Jesus does the first move, presenting himself willing to dispel doubts, and literally offering his wounded side for Thomas explore. Our attention should be placed on how and why Jesus engages with Thomas because we could all be in the shoes of this Apostle. There are times when even the most seasoned Christian may be seized by niggling doubts, and there are times in which anyone could struggle with faith; so it is to us all that Jesus reaches out for from the pages of the gospel, saying “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.”

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter and in many churches this day is celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday in order to draw our attention on the mercy of God so that, with the Easter events still fresh in our minds, we can look back at the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus as the crowning of God’s acts of mercy. ‘Jesus Christ is Divine Mercy in person’ (Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Conclave Homily 2005). In him God makes himself available to everyone in a very real way – to believers and unbelievers alike, even to the soldiers who, on Good Friday, seized his hands and nailed them to the Cross. But Divine Mercy cannot be confined to the events of the Cross and Resurrection; in Jesus, mercy is the availability of God to us; the readiness of God to make the first move, to act as he did with the Apostles to free us from our fears. We encounter Divine Mercy every time we turn to Jesus with our doubts and insecurities. And in those moments it is Divine Mercy that says to us, as he did to Thomas, “Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.”

In our moments of doubt we may not be invited to actually put our fingers into Jesus’ wounds; nevertheless Our Lord demonstrates with us the same availability to be tested and probed, as it were, by our enquiring minds as he does in the gospel. “Come,” he says to us, “see and judge for yourself what others have said about me. Doubt no longer but believe.” If we genuinely commit ourselves to study the person of Jesus in the Scriptures, the tradition of the Church, and in prayer; if we approach his wounded side through his Body and Blood at the Mass; if we strive to encounter him in acts of mercy towards those in need; we will find that all these are ways in which Jesus can engage with us should we struggle with faith, and can dispel our doubts through his Divine Mercy.

Lord Jesus,
Divine Mercy flowing to us from your pierced side,
your wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
yet I confess you my Lord and God to be;
make me believe in you evermore and more.
In you is my hope, in you my love to store. Amen.
                   (adapted from Adoro te devote)

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