March 30, 2008 Year A
Divine Mercy Sunday
Reflection on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: We Have Seen the Lord
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord."
We are not told why Thomas was missing from that first meeting with the Resurrected Lord. But we do know that the disciples were huddled together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Perhaps Thomas was scurrying about in the shadows buying some food for the haggard disciples.
The last few days have been eventful in which the disciples have seen their Lord and Master arrested, put on trial and finally crucified. And it is on this special evening of the first day of the week when Jesus shows himself to the ten disciples. Judas is no more. Thomas is out and about. And Jesus stands among them and says, "Peace be with you."
In fact, twice on this fear filled evening and again eight days later Jesus says to his disciples, "Peace be with you."
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. On this very first appearance our Lord shows them the glory of his suffering. Even in his resurrected body his hands were nailed scarred and his side sword pierced. Jesus desired the disciples to know him as the one wounded for their salvation, bruised for their iniquity.
Why do we have a crucifix in our Church? It certainly isn't because we believe the Lord still hangs from an old rugged cross! Then why? In the hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded there is this verse:
What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for thee.
Our Lord made himself known by the wounds of his suffering. And it is to his suffering side to which we are drawn; on his nailed scarred hands and feet let us ever gaze. But instead of thorns that did pierce his brow now a royal diadem; in resurrection power does he now himself display the trophies of his suffering. It is his cross that still reminds us of his mercy for the guilty and his love for the miserable. And in this first resurrection appearance to his disciples he showed them his hands and his side! What love! What redeeming love! In the words of Fanny Crosby the Church sings:
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.
That very evening our Lord says again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." The words of absolution in the Rite of Reconciliation are: God the Father of mercies has reconciled the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, and has poured forth the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. May He grant you pardon and peace through the ministry of the Church. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
In the Church we find grace that is greater than our sins. As persona Christi the priest brings to the penitent the mercy of Jesus. In the confessional we remember that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And in the confessional we are reminded that the gift of God is eternal life. In Confession we hear our Lord Jesus through the priest say, "Peace be with you."
On the eighth day Thomas was present with the other disciples. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; and be not faithless but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and My God."
All of these occurrences have been recorded that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in his name.
We have a supernatural life because He has been given a name that is above every name. There is no other name given among men by which we can be saved. It is the precious name of Jesus that is the hope and joy of heaven and earth.
The peace we have in Jesus is because He is our Lord and our God. Let us not be slow to love him and serve him in the poor we embrace, in the lonely we befriend, or in the hungry we feed. It is in this mercy we share in Jesus' name through which we shall obtain Mercy.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, in mercy you came and searched for me as a shepherd for his sheep. When you found me I saw you, the Lord of Glory, as a Lamb who takes away my sin. Great is your peace and mercy. Amen.
``O Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the the Name of Jesus...Renew Thy Wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost!!'' Pope John XXIII