I wonder what the disciples felt when they first saw Jesus in the upper room. After all, every single one of them, save for John, had abandoned Jesus when he was arrested in the garden. Peter even denied knowing Jesus not once, but three times! Were they ashamed? Afraid? Were they expecting that Jesus was going to berate them for abandoning him, and for not having faith?
I imagine there must have been a bit of shock when Jesus spoke, and the first words out of his mouth were “Peace be with you.” Perhaps that is why he repeats those words again- to let the disciples know that he truly brings peace, and is not there to judge or condemn. He then shows the apostles the depth of his mercy by forgiving them of their sins, and by giving them the power to forgive sins through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This gift of forgiveness is central to what we celebrate on this Second Sunday of Easter, which was named Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope St. John Paul II in the year 2000. On this Sunday, we recognize that God’s mercy is limitless, and that it is poured out upon the world for the salvation of all humanity. The question is, are we open to receive that mercy? Are we open to allowing God to be present in our lives? Or do we, like Thomas, sometimes refuse to believe that God is present and at work unless our demands are met?
I do think that Thomas sometimes is misunderstood, because when he sees the risen Lord, his faith is clear. If he completely denied the Resurrection, he would not have remained in the upper room with the other disciples, hoping that Jesus would come again. However, the message is also clear that those who have not seen, and yet believed, are just as blessed as those who have seen the risen Lord with their own eyes. Do we allow these blessings to come to us through our belief in the Resurrection?
I think the words of our Opening prayer at Mass today beautifully sum up what we are called to strive for in the midst of this Easter season.
God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
I invite you to reflect on this prayer throughout this week, as we continue to celebrate the joy of the Lord’s resurrection.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB