DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
As we celebrate today the Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord invites us to enter into the boundless mercy and compassion of God. When Jesus died and was pierced through with a sword, blood (representing the Eucharist) and water (representing Baptism) flowed out from his breast. The heart of God was opened to the world! It was the moment when humanity was invited to enter into the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
To the world, the crucifixion of Jesus, who died as a criminal, was a total failure. To Jesus’ disciples it was not just the death of their master but also the death of their hope for the messiah. The Father’s abandonment to Jesus on the cross was also the abandonment of God to the cause that Jesus worked for. To the disciples it was as if Jesus abandoned them like orphans. But this feeling of abandonment was short-lived! It was in this most depressing situation that the Risen Christ appeared. The first thing he said to them was “Peace be with you.” The Lord took away their fears and gave them peace. He had to show them the signs of His Passion: His wounded side and hands to ascertain that the Crucified Jesus was now the Glorified Christ!
The Risen Christ did not just greet them and give them peace but empowered them as well with the gift of the Mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Suddenly the “losers” were now transformed into victors. With this empowerment, the apostles received the mission that the Church will have to carry through until the end of time.
While the other apostles were shrouded with fear, Thomas on the other hand was full of doubt. He refused to believe in the Risen Christ and he needed some empirical proofs that can be verified by the external senses: to see is to believe. When he stretched out his hands to feel the fresh wounds of the side of Christ, he uttered his irrevocable profession of faith; “My Lord and my God.” Jesus proclaimed “You believe because you see me. Blessed are those who believe although they have not seen.”
Fear and doubt! These are the poisons that cripple those who live outside the resurrection. Just like the apostles prior to the resurrection, our lives without our experience of the Risen Christ are surrounded by many forms of fear. Human as we are, in our weakness we have all the reasons to be afraid of as we confront the uncertainties of life: poverty, tragedies, sickness, depression, failures, etc. Like the apostles, we also cringe in the deepest recesses of our fears. In moments of doubt when we are not certain to believe because of the seemingly absence of God: when life seems but a series of suffering and pain; when we have nothing to hold on to; when there is no light at the end of the tunnel and when there is almost nothing left to hope for.... Christ appears to us and opens his heart so that we enter into the boundless love and mercy of God!
The Church is at her best when she is totally poor, naked and abandoned because she, as the bride of Christ, best resembles her groom. Like the Church, as disciples of Jesus, we become closest to God in our absolute nothingness because it is when we best resemble our Master. In this experience of emptiness, Jesus gives us fullness of life. This is what peace is all about: when our life is in harmony with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world.
Even today, the resurrection stories continues. The Risen Christ continues to show himself to the many doubting Tomases around us. The Risen Christ reveals Himself to us through a friend, a neighbor, a stranger. In this way, the Easter journey continues through us….