My dear bothers and sisters,
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter, the Divine Mercy Sunday, and also the day Pope Francis canonizes two pillars of the Catholic Church: the blessed Pope John XXIII and blessed Pope John Paul II. These are two new saints of our age.
We are gathering together here in the day of God to celebrate the Divine Mercy. Truly, Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Sunday, and appeared on the same day to Mary Magdalene and the other women, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the gathering of the apostles. He did not appear to them again until "a week after" (John 20:26), that is, the following Sunday. Let us remember that, each Sunday of the year reminds us of that first and unique Sunday when the Lord rose from the dead. Today, more than any other Sunday, the Church invites us to remember this day, blessed among all days, the day that saw Jesus of Nazareth rise to eternal life, Jesus the God-man who redeemed us from damnation with his bloody sacrifice offered once and for all on the Cross of Calvary.
Today, eight days after Easter, the Octave of Easter, we continue to celebrate the victory of Christ over death, over eternal death! God came to save what was lost: through his great love, through his immense mercy, the Lord Jesus wanted to carry out the Will of his Father and to open up to us, through his death and resurrection, the way to Heaven.
Today, when we are celebrating Divine Mercy and are joyfully proclaiming - “we will sing of the mercies of the Lord...”, let us remember that the message behind the Upper Room appearance is that Jesus wants the disciples to know that his Church is founded on forgiveness and has a mission to bring about peace through forgiveness. This is why he did not only forgive them but also commissioned them to continue his mission of salvation and forgiveness of sin.
In the Mercy Sunday, apostle Thomas is the sign of this divine mercy. In today's gospel we read about the appearance of the risen Lord in the assembly of the apostles on the day of resurrection and a second appearance a week later. The second appearance focuses on apostle Thomas who was not present with the rest of the apostles when Jesus appeared among them. So the following Sunday Thomas is there fellowshipping with the rest of the community. Jesus appears as usual and Thomas experiences the desire of his heart and exclaims: "My Lord and my God”. Thomas saw the Lord and he needed to see him to believe in his resurrection. We still call him the doubter or “doubting Thomas” – a name given to him because of just one week in his life when he struggled with his faith – one week which has lasted for two thousand years! Truly, Thomas would want us to remember that he didn’t remain stuck in disbelief. He would like to grow and change in our minds, to become “believing Thomas” or “Thomas the convinced” and then he can encourage us to make that same journey and dare to believe that Jesus Christ is risen.
Thomas would want us to hear and respond to the message that he and the other apostles have to offer. The Resurrection is the very heart of that message. The Resurrection is the very message. Thomas offers us the message of one who would not believe until he could actually touch the wounds of Jesus. The message that somehow if we hang on Jesus will reveal himself to us in a way that will lead us to declare him our Lord and our God.
On a day like this, Divine Mercy Sunday, May Our Lord help us to recognize his mercy and encourage us to be merciful to one another, in our homes, families and communities. Besides encouraging us to be "masters of divine mercy", Christ invites us like Thomas to touch his wounds (John 20:19-31); wounds that would heal Thomas’ wounds of disbelief and faithlessness; wounds that replaces lack of peace with Peace of Christ; wounds that replaces the spirit of darkness with God’s Spirit of Light. Amen.
Joseph Pham Quoc Van, O.P.