St. Augustine said, “"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." How true of a statement is that when we can start to understand our faith is when we begin to believe in it. St. Thomas this morning couldn’t believe until he saw “the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into his nail marks.” Now when Thomas did finally see the Lord and was able to touch the marks then he would exclaim, “My Lord and my God.” Could you imagine when Thomas finally understood what he believed?
Through locked doors, despite the disciples’ fear, beyond their doubting and disbelief, the risen Jesus came and “stood in their midst”—not just once, but twice. Nothing deters Jesus from sharing his Spirit and new life with his disciples. He persists until he brings all—not just the early disciples and Thomas but also all of us today---to peace, forgiveness, and new life. Even in the glory of his resurrection. Jesus is caring for his disciples and calling them to a belief in him which brings new life and presence. The disciples believed because they saw the Lord. The early converts believed because they saw “signs and wonders” as we heard in the first reading. We believe because we, too, see the signs and wonders of God’s presence. But now the risen Jesus continues to stand in the midst of the world through the “signs and wonders” worked by us who are his disciples. Our Easter alleluia isn’t simply a song on our lips during these weeks of Easter. It is a song in our hearts which spills out in the way we relate to others in being the risen Christ for them. Alleluia is the song of our lives which, like Jesus, brings new life to others. Alleluia is the song of our belief which calls others to utter “My Lord and my God!”
My brothers and sisters, we that are gathered here might not be unbelievers in the existence of our God but do we doubt what God could do in our own lives. When we have a situation that is occurring with us as individuals or with our families do we truly believe that God can help us through it or do we find other avenues to solve the problem? Do we have doubt that God is limited in forgiving us because we believe how can anyone forgive what I have done? Are we doubtful of the unconditional love that is told of our God? How can this be? There must be some limitation?
I can tell you my brothers and sisters that our God is a merciful, loving, forgiving and helpful God who is there at all times in the good and especially in the bad. Today we celebrate not simply the second Sunday of Easter but our beloved John Paul II had designated this day as Divine Mercy Sunday for the whole church. Now some of you might not be familiar with this devotion but it focuses on the image of Jesus that we have this morning here in the sanctuary, as you notice on the image there are two rays that are coming from his heart, one of these rays being red and the other white. The red which stands for the Blood which is the life of souls and white which stands for the Water which makes souls righteous and at the bottom of the image is the slogan that states, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
This image appeared to St. Faustina who was a polish nun that lived in the early 20th century and who on February 22, 1931, had an apparition of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bringing with Him a wonderful message of Mercy for all humanity. Christ told her that, “These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."
How wonderful that on this Sunday we are reminded how we are to trust and believe in our Lord and God. How his mercy is more than we can imagine and all we have to do is to let that mercy embrace us. I know that every Wednesday afternoon when we gather here to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and as we sing the words, “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” How liberating that is that this Risen One that we celebrate during this season has reconciled us back to the Father.
Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina on April 30, 2000 and he said during his homily at the Mass of canonization, “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called "Divine Mercy Sunday". In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that "man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called ‘to practice mercy' towards others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual. His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent….in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy.”
So my brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this Second Sunday of Easter, this Divine Mercy Sunday, I invite you to join us this afternoon at three o’ clock to celebrate our Merciful God and let us believe in our God who is so loving and mercy and let us cry out as Thomas did, “My Lord and My God!”
Living Liturgy, p. 110