Browsing Reflections

Fr. Jo's Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday A, April 19, 2020

You’ll perhaps think that if after His resurrection, Jesus had shown Himself to more people besides His disciples, everyone would have believed that He rose from the dead. If on that Easter morning, He had flown straight to the palace of Herod, then to Pilate, then to Caiaphas, then proceeded to the temple in a Spiderman-like bravado, He would have convinced everyone about His Resurrection. You’re mistaken; the world would demand more feats. He would need to enter the temple, before everyone, and inside the Holy of Holies perform a resurrection gyration. Still that won’t be enough. From the temple He’ll be required to fly to Capernaum where He’ll dash into the Synagogue like a conquering war general, disrupt the Torah lesson of the day and frighten observers with portents that show Him as the enemy they couldn’t conquer. Would that have made everyone believe He’s the Messiah? Not likely. To win over the crowd by miracles will require that you perform endless miracles. 
  The Resurrection did frighten the guards stationed at the tomb who reported their experience to the chief priests. The effort to bribe the guards into lying about the Resurrection and the press statement released by the authorities: “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while the guards were asleep” (Mtt 28:11) shows that no amount of physical evidence would have been enough to convince the Jews. Something different would be required: faith.
  Today’s appearance of Jesus to the apostles touches a number of themes. He comes to make peace with them; hence, they are filled with joy upon seeing the Lord. He also meant to confirm their faith in Him. Therefore, He breathes on them the breath of the Holy Spirit, through whose power they will become ambassadors of the resurrection. He commissions them to continue the work He began. We heard Luke report in the first reading that the community of believers devoted themselves to (1) the teaching of the apostles (2) to a communal life (3) to the breaking of bread, that is, to the celebration of Mass, and (4) to prayers. His appearance was also a salutary lesson on the fragility of human nature and an assurance of Divine Mercy. These men must have been extremely embarrassed at their tepidity, denials and abandonment of their Master, who called them friends. Their hearts must have reeled in utter shame and remorse. But He forgives them, and right there, commands them to forgive others in His name. By this He establishes an avenue to let God’s mercy flow. Hence, this Sunday all over the world has been designated ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’ 
  A disciple, therefore, is one called to carry the message of God’s mercy to a world that is broken yet claims self-sufficiency. He will have to contend with a powerful force that hates and opposes God with the agenda to destroy faith. The Coronavirus has taught us a deep lesson: we may pride ourselves as sophisticated, yet a tiny virus can shut the whole world down. What can God’s mighty hand do?
  The first sign that He wanted to confront the world’s modus operandi came with the reaction of Thomas to the report by his fellow apostles. Thomas represents the world for whom the criteria for truth must be limited to concrete observable data. Hence, if you cannot touch, feel or measure it, then that idea should be rejected. Yet, the second appearance was more than an effort at evidentiary proof. Here, Thomas represents each one of us with an inner restlessness that requires destruction in order that the Risen Christ might refashion us. Christ makes clear that beatitude is guaranteed only by faith: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Thomas’ inquiry turns to a prayer that the Lord might mitigate our inner restlessness and solidify our faith in Him. At the revelation of Christ, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” John makes the point that the exchange between Jesus and Thomas is a story told to help us “believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in him.” 


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