Following the Mass yesterday at Holy Hill, I was asked to share the text for my homily based on the appearance of risen Christ to St. Thomas. A bit was said impromptu but I’m posting what I had prepared before me… and I’ve provided something of a “more finished” end…
What do our Scriptures tell us today on this “Mercy” Sunday?
1) St. John the Evangelist tells us in today’s Gospel: “Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” Twice in the passage He does so. The Risen Christ has the power to enter the places of the heart which we keep locked up, out of fear. His love is not deterred by our stubborn lack of faith. He actively seeks us out to reveal to us His power and His love.
2) It is in spite of our stubbornness of heart that the Risen Jesus reveals His power. “Love conquers all fear,” St. John’s First Letter tells us (1 John 4:18). Jesus only invites us to look at His wounds and to touch them in faith. As He says to Thomas, so He says to us: SEE MY WOUNDS … look upon my RISEN BODY and see what GOD desires for you to BECOME. Forget your betrayals and infidelities. LOOK at ME.
Jesus reveals to Thomas and to us the beauty and the truth of our humanity. That even our many WOUNDS can become life-giving … an opportunity for compassion, a door to let God into our lives again. Do not be unbelieving but belief. Because as St John tells us, our faith in Christ is our means of conquering (1 John 5:4).
3) Jesus can still be touched today. St. John of the Cross tells us that faith touches God (see Spiritual Canticle, 12.4). For this reason, Jesus says: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Brothers and sisters, our FAITH permits us to personally encounter God and to touch the glorious wounds of Christ. Faith brings us HEALING. Those who refuse to believe outright are crippled by arrogance, unable to acknowledge whatever their minds cannot grasp. This is a GREAT misery—to allow our tiny minds to be the measure of reality. …Christian faith is NOT some “feel-good” optimism or mere positive thinking; but rather, faith embraces the truth that reality in God is NOT bound by or restricted to the limits of our paltry understanding.
4) In Jesus, God enters the locked upper room of our heart and reveals His power to save us. Mercy brings LIFE and LOVE where there was NONE. Christ desires to enter the dark recesses of our hearts and to carry there the light of His love—He wants to free us from fear, from sin, from death. For this reason He accepted the Cross.
Blessed John Paul II, a man well-acquainted with suffering, having lost all the members of his family to death by the time he was only 20 years old, a man who worked in labor camps at the time of Nazi occupation, and a man who was nearly murdered by an assassin while blessing the multitudes at St. Peter’s… this man wrote: “The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence” (Dives in misericordia, 8). The cross—in our petty sufferings, our impatience, our inconveniences, our misunderstandings—this cross is the path that, with Jesus, leads us to Resurrection and a peace that knows no limits…
5) Let us trustingly examine our hearts before the Risen Christ who enters the locked Upper Room of our heart and desires to give us His peace there. His is not a peace conditional upon our merits and righteousness. It is HIS peace, bestowed at His pleasure, to reveal to us the indomitable mercy that comes to us from the Father. A love that triumphs over death in any of its particular manifestations during this passing life. Jesus is like that owner of the vineyard, hiring workers throughout the day and paying them as HE wishes, who asks: “Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Matt 20:15). His “plenty” stems from His inexhaustible life, shared with His eternal Father, and now broken open to be poured out, through the Holy Spirit… upon whomever He pleases. May God grant we might be truly surrendered to the unfathomable gift of this Life.