In today’s Gospel, when Thomas touches Jesus’ body, he believes—but Jesus isn’t too impressed with this expression of faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” Jesus must have been envisioning us—all of the future believers who might need courage and imagination to believe, centuries later.
Do we think we’re blessed, lucky, or happy to be encountering Jesus in a different way from the apostles? Probably not. If anything, we may feel as if we’re quite distant—detached, even—from the bold, alive spirit that filled Jesus. His followers were thrilled, amazed, excited, to be close to him. But it is clearly more of a challenge for us.
There is no doubt that the real core of faith comes down to us from those fervent believers who were closest to Jesus Christ. We Catholics are linked to THAT community of believers, who passed eyewitness accounts down through history.
We may not have perfect faith—but our questions and doubts, Jesus is saying, are not to be feared. It takes only a mustard seed of faith. Thomas isn’t rejected because of his doubt; but he IS being asked to believe in a different way, a more adult way, that doesn’t require hanging on to the physical.
Here is the crux of it all: we must believe in Jesus without demanding physical proof—but we must prove our faith by getting very physical about it. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you…” Jesus sends us into a world that is desperate to be touched—touched with kindness, with compassion, mercy, love, patience, generosity. Mother Teresa with the dying, Father Damian with the lepers, St. Francis with the poor—they all said that to touch the poor and hold the sick, they first had to believe it was Jesus himself they were touching.
“His love endures forever” (Ps. 117/118:2). Truly, God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires. In this ‘forever’ we find strength in moments of trial and weakness because we are sure that God does not abandon us. He remains with us forever. Let us give thanks for so great a love which we find impossible to grasp; it is immense! Let us pray for the grace to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world. let us ask that we too be merciful, to spread the power of the Gospel everywhere, and to write those pages of the gospel which John the Baptist did not write” (Pope Francis, April 3, 2016).
Today, the Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. St. John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal feast in the Church on the day he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, the great Apostle and Secretary of Divine Mercy on April 30, 2000, which was Divine Mercy Sunday that year. Divine Mercy Sunday is the celebration of the Feast of Mercy that our Lord asked of St. Faustina. This Feast of Mercy is the focal point that summarizes the Mercy message and devotion. The message of mercy can be called to mind by remembering the ABC, ASK for His Mercy, BE merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. COMPLETELY trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust.
As we conclude the Octave of Easter today and continue to celebrate Easter, may the love and mercy of the Risen Lord bless you on this Divine Mercy Sunday and always! Pray unceasingly: Jesus, I Trust in You!
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish