SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – YEAR C
“Put your finger here… Reach out your hand and put it in my side.” Amazingly, Thomas, who has demanded this demonstration of Jesus’ Resurrection, balks at the last moment. Perhaps seeing really is believing for this doubting disciple. OR perhaps the raw ugliness of Jesus’ scars causes him to recoil, as many of us would if confronted by a particularly gruesome injury.
Yet, as Jesus has already challenged the other disciples in the locked room to look at the marks left by his torture, the holes left in hands fastened to the cross, the gash in his side, so now he stands before Thomas and before us. It is vital for us on this Divine Mercy Sunday to look carefully at Jesus’ wounds because they have names. The nail print on his right hand bears the label, “Sri Lanka”; that on the left, “Cathedral of Notre Dame.” The ugly wound where a spear entered his side to pierce his divine heart is “Clergy Sex Abuse”, a wound that will not heal completely any time soon.
Those scars, with their often- changing labels, are ugly. It is no easier for us to look at them than it was for Thomas to touch them. Yet, precisely because they are Jesus’ wounds, the scars of the wounded Risen One, we have reason to hope. The wounds that Jesus received on Calvary draw up into themselves and absorb the wounds inflicted on and borne by his Mystical Body on earth, the Church.
How can we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday unless we acknowledge and own the pain, the loss, the tears, the outrage, the brokenness, and yes, the guilt and shame that fill the front pages of our newspapers, form the lead stories on our news broadcasts, the ever-present banners on websites and smart-phones?
We are in desperate need of mercy and this Sunday points our precisely where we are to find it. Both St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary drew portraits of mercy literally streaming forth from the pierced heart of the Risen Savior. This day is also a reminder that we are called to be not only the recipients but also the agents of mercy in a hurting, confused, and despairing world.
In earlier centuries, this Low Sunday, this Octave Day of Easter was the occasion for newly-initiated converts to lay aside their wide baptismal robes. Divine Mercy Sunday is the day for all disciples to roll up our sleeves and get on with the works of mercy.
Today we welcome and pray with the Religious Brothers who minister in our diocese. They are men who have exchanged their baptismal robes for the habits of their religious communities and have dedicated themselves totally to bringing God’s mercy to life in so many ministries and areas of service.
An alumnus of St. Gregory the Great School and Archbishop Molloy High School is now the principal of a Catholic grammar outside Boston. Because the school had no motto, James gave it one” “Not for School but for Life.” That, of course is the motto of Archbishop Molloy, as it is of the Marist brothers who were such a profound influence in James’ choice of a career. When I receive the school’s newsletters, I find myself strongly impressed by the dedication and wisdom of that father of four young children as he strives to educate in the fullest meaning of that word. James took his school motto from the Marist Brothers, and he holds up to his faculty members and students the Franciscan ideal embodied in the Prayer of St. Francis, “Make me an instrument of your peace.”
“Make me an instrument of your peace, your mercy.” That is what we all pray on this Divine Mercy Sunday. And the Responsorial Psalm today is a fitting mixture of cries for deliverance and hymns of triumph, as the Risen One stands before us displaying his wounds and declaring, “Peace be with you.” So, we pray, “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”