We are still in the joy of Easter, especially in this Sunday of the Divine Mercy. In the Gospel, the disciples after meeting the risen Christ their fear turns to joy and the doubts of Thomas open into an expression of profound faith. That’s the pascal experience for the disciples. And you, how is the Good News of the resurrection crossing paths with your life?
Bible Readings Acts 4: 32-35 Psalm 118: 2-4, 16-18, 22-24 1 John 5: 1-6 John 20: 19-31
What a contrast!
There’s a difference between the first reading and the Gospel. In the first reading we have a flourishing and dynamic, young Christian community. Everything seems to be going well, the sharing and the unity that prevail among members. You can’t ask for more. In the Gospel it’s the contrary.
The disciples not only are their heads down in discouragement, they are afraid also –will they be the next target? That’s why they lock themselves up in a house. Apparently, the message received earlier by Mary Madeleine doesn’t help them much to regain their morale; and so it seems like the end of their career with Jesus –but it’s far from it! In fact, through the disciples we will appreciate how the Easter experience can soar us to unimaginable heights.
Disciples’ fear in me
For fearful disciples who have locked themselves up, the house has become a kind of prison. For us today, such prison may not only be physical but also life situations that keep us in shackles and prevent us from leading a fully blossomed life. So I may ask myself: what are my fears today? And what are making me withdraw into myself? Or I may find myself also in the shoes of Thomas.
Thomas is absent when the risen Christ comes –wherever he went! In him we see the reaction of someone who has been disappointed once; consequently, he’s just too cautious so as not to be heartbroken again: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Not even a word of his fellow disciples will suffice to convince him.
This is not a story of the past; it may be our story today. Our relations, aren’t they marred by distrust and suspicion? Having been disappointed in the past, probably, today we are cautious about who to trust. We carry in us the wounds from the past. But, are we condemned forever?
Recreating Easter experience
“Peace be with you” that’s how Christ greets his disciples, when he reaches out to them in their enclosure. And there’s joy. Indeed, a reconciled person is at peace with oneself and with others. Probably the disciples needed that, especially after such a dramatic event during which they ran away, abandoning their master. It may not be easy to bear. That’s why now Jesus entrusts them with ministry of forgiveness. A person who has been forgiven is likely to offer pardon generously, especially with humility. In short, this encounter with the risen Christ is transforming; the fearful and demoralised disciples become joyful, missionaries of God’s mercy. And Thomas also, later, makes a confession of faith that inspires us even today: “My Lord and my God!”
No, I’m not condemned forever!
I too can rejoice in the resurrection of Christ and already begin to pick up the fruits of peace and joy. However, to arrive that, I need to allow Jesus to visit my hideout so that he can he blow on him the breath of life. My hideout is any attitude that robs me of the simplicity to trust. The opposite is the tendency to take as true and real only what I can scan with my magnifying glass. In that way, I’m no longer in the doubts of Thomas that debouch into faith; but rather into hardheartedness that blocks me completely. Welcoming the message of the resurrection is actually opening oneself to a fresh start in life. Perhaps, it may not be enough to speak simply of the resurrection; it’s important also, whatever form it may take, to meet the risen Christ.
Resurrection as daily Easter experience
Remember, Christ’s visit to the disciples takes place on the first the first day of the week –creation begins on the first day. And it’s by the gesture of “breathing out” that God gives life to the human being. This makes us appreciate how the Easter experience is actually an act of being created anew. There you realise then that the resurrection is not just about what happens tomorrow after death but also the continuous chance of fresh start in life.
Place of Divine Mercy in Easter experience
When we are down, discouraged with no energy to pick ourselves up; God, in a variety of ways, comes to meet us right where we are. (2nd Sunday of Easter A. Divine Mercy: Jesus, I trust in you!). There, he speaks to us the words of peace and breathes on us the breath of life that revives us. That’s Divine Mercy, we don’t merit it but he offers us gratuitously. It’s by his mercy that God gives us the chance for a fresh start no matter the number of times we find ourselves down.
Today, this mission is entrusted to us to help others experience this mercy of God. Each time we lend a helping hand to help someone up –we fulfil our vocation as missionaries of Divine Mercy. “Freely you have received; freely give” (Mt 10:8).
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