Dear Followers of Jesus,
On this Second Sunday of Easter, we hear the sacred liturgy of John 20:19-31. This gospel is proclaimed in all three liturgical cycles on the Second Sunday of Easter, also know as Divine Mercy Sunday. The gospel invites us into a scene of fear and uncertainty as the disciples are locked in a room after Jesus’ death.
Within their visible fear, Jesus appears in their midst. He offers them peace. This text is rich and profound for our own spiritual lives. Even when fear corrupts our hearts, when it shrouds our perspectives about life and damages our relationships, Jesus comes to us today. The resurrection opens new doors, releases fear and brings peace. We literally stand with the disciples to discover Jesus’ peace.
Jesus then commissions them to go out into the world and offer the forgiveness of his life and resurrection. I can’t imagine how confused the disciples must have been. After all they had been through, Jesus comes to them out of the blue and tells them to get moving beyond their fear and beyond the walls of their locked door.
Thomas was not in the room with them when they experienced such a miracle. A week later, Thomas stands in the presence of Jesus. Thomas takes his finger and places it in the wounds of his hands and places his hand into Jesus’ side. In other words, Thomas probes the mystery of the wounded and redeemed Christ. This is key for us to find the resurrected Christ in our own day. We, too, must probe the mystery of the wounded and redeemed Body of Christ. We do so within the broken, the marginalized, the ill and suffering, the lonely and forgotten.
“My Lord and my God,” proclaims Thomas. His surrender to Jesus’ love and presence is felt well beyond the page where these words are written. This proclamation is felt deep within our souls, especially when we have the courage to seek the Body of Christ in the poor and the abandoned. We know who the resurrected Christ is in this story and we know who we are called to become for we are commissioned as well to be peacemakers, to be people who help others makes sense out of their suffering. All suffering can be redeemed in Christ Jesus, if we have the faith to touch it, to reach out to those who most need love, peace and forgiveness.
The Congregation of Holy Cross celebrates priesthood ordinations on the Saturday after Easter. So our priests preach on this gospel as they celebrate Mass for the first time. I first preached on this gospel 36 years ago. This is my favorite text. I have spent my priesthood probing the mystery of the wounded and redeemed Body of Christ in our world. When I see and touch the pain of others and even within my own life, I find the peace, love and forgiveness of the Resurrection. This is not just a pious notion. This is the reality of not only priesthood but also what we are all called to seek, the resurrection of Christ Jesus. May mercy open doors for us and may we touch the miracles of new life.