2nd Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy), Year B
Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
April 8, 2018
Jesus has been crucified. How could this have happened to the Messiah?
The tomb has been found empty. What does this mean?
It doesn’t make sense. The disciples are gathering together in a locked room. They have locked the door out of “fear of the Jews.”
In human terms, they have reason to fear. Jesus, the one whom they had come to follow had been arrested, beaten, and crucified by the Jewish leaders who opposed him. His disciples were afraid the same thing could happen to them. So, they gathered together in the locked room.
Jesus knew they were struggling to make sense of what happened. He knew they weren’t sure what the empty tomb meant. He knew they were afraid.
In his mercy, he comes to them through the locked door. Knowing their fear, he greets them “Peace by with you.” Knowing they don’t understand what it means to rise, “he showed them his hands and his side,” his hands where the nails were driven through, his side where he was lanced after his death and the blood and the water flowed out to show them that he is indeed the same Jesus who has been crucified. Again, he says, “Peace be with you.” In his mercy, he continues to offer them peace.
One of the Twelve, Thomas, was not there. When the others tell him about Jesus’ appearance, he refuses to believe unless he sees for himself. For this, he has been known since then as “doubting Thomas.”
Does he doubt? Yes. Why? Because it seems impossible. Remember, no one had risen from the dead before so this is all new.
Were the other disciples any different? What did all the disciples do as Jesus was arrested? Didn’t they run in fear?
Where were the others when Jesus appeared to them? In a locked room! If they had no doubt, why would they have been behind locked doors?
A week later Jesus appears again and speaks directly to Thomas, inviting him to touch his wounds. Thomas immediately comes to believe. In his doubt, he receives assurance.
What does it mean to doubt? To doubt is to be uncertain about something. The disciples were very uncertain about what “resurrection” meant but they still believed. If they had lost all faith, why were they gathered together in a locked room?
We can look at the world today, see all the violence and wonder why is God in all of this? Why doesn’t God do something about it? Morality is on the decline with some giving up on any sense of an absolute truth or right and wrong.
It can make us wonder. Some would call it doubt. But in faith, we still trust in God. We still come together because there is still hope in our hearts. Where does this hope come from? It is a gift from God.
I want to point out that when Jesus appeared and spoke to Thomas, Jesus did not explain the Resurrection and Thomas did not ask for an explanation. Once he saw the Lord, that was enough.
That’s why Jesus came to him and to the others in that locked room. Did Jesus teach to his disciples? Yes, but he did not explain everything. He spoke to their hearts to nurture their faith and hope rather than provide knowledge.
Jesus did this, as he does everything, out of mercy.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared that this Second Sunday of Easter be always celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday.
What is “mercy”?
In church terms, we think of mercy as the forgiveness of our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Certainly, this is a form of mercy that we need throughout our lives.
We also talk about acts of mercy, starting with feeding the hungry and visiting the sick to counseling the doubtful and offering instruction but, again, what is mercy?
For the recent Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Vatican published a series of books. One of them is called, The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015.) In this book (page 15), we read that the Latin word for “mercy” is “Misericordia.” The word comes from “misere”, meaning “misery” and “cor/cordis” meaning “heart”. Thus, it identifies mercy as “having a heart full of solidarity with those in need.”
This is at the core of who Jesus is. Everything he does comes from his heart, from his love for us.
We can have lots of questions that we want to ask God. In our humanity, we might like some answers but we don’t have all the answers. That means we aren’t going to understand everything. We might doubt (wonder) why things are the way they are. This doubt is not a denial of God. It simply means we have questions but in faith, we had it over to God and ask for his mercy.