This solemnity of Divine Mercy had its beginnings in February of 1931, when St. Faustina had a vision of Jesus, who said that he desired this feast especially for the sake of sinners, saying “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” But to really understand this idea of Divine Mercy I think we need to enter into the experience that the apostles had in that locked upper room. The reason they are there is because they are scared. Jerusalem turned against Jesus and put him to death, and so who knows what will happen to them if they are recognized out in the streets. But you can imagine also that they are lost and confused, debating if they just wasted three years of their lives following Jesus for it to end in crucifixion, wondering if they deserve the animosity of the Pharisees and the crowds and all those who were scandalized by what Jesus did and said. And you can imagine still… that they knew they abandoned the person they loved the most. Judas at least had the courage to betray Jesus to his face, but they were the cowards that chose fear in the final moment when things really mattered… in the moment of life and death they ran away. That was the locked upper room. As they sat there with no words or actions to redeem themselves, Christ appears. And the first thing he says is, “peace be with you.” And the second thing he says is, “peace be with you.” That is Divine Mercy. That is God who claims us at our lowest moment and never lets us go.
This Divine Mercy is what the Church was born out, Christ giving us his peace and his spirit and sending us to the world just as the Father had sent him. Having known his mercy we must now turn to others and by our words and our actions say to them, “peace be with you.” Often as a Church we do that really well. Just yesterday we had our parish day of service and over 600 people went out to do things like feed the poor and tutor children and even just hang around the church and do some cleaning. But on the other hand in our individual lives we often struggle to give peace to the person that we dislike or even to hear ourselves those words of peace in our moment of shame and sin.
If that is you then latch onto the second half of this gospel and the person of St. Thomas. St. Thomas was not ready to know Christ in his resurrection, was not ready to be forgiven, to know peace in his heart, to be sent to others. So what St. Thomas does is he says precisely that. He is honest. And Jesus, the King of Mercy, doesn’t rebuke him or criticize him or turn him away. Jesus instead appears again and says, “peace be with you.” And he goes on to say to Thomas that if he needs to touch to believe then touch. If nothing else, you can be like Thomas. You can admit to God that you’re not ready to be forgiven because you are so filled with shame, or that you are not ready to forgive because you are so filled with anger… or whatever it is that prevents you from truly hearing the words, “peace be with you”… tell Christ the things that still bind your heart. And don’t be surprised when a week later you find him standing before you in your life, ready to give what you need.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.