Second Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy 19 April 2009
Where is the HOPE?
This question is very appropriate in these times of apparent desperation. With the economy taking a nose-dive, unemployment on the rise, and good people of integrity being earmarked as terrorists, there is a lot to be frightened of.
A very popular personal finance advisor got together recently with his team and brainstormed an idea about holding a virtual “Town Hall Meeting,” the theme of which is Hope, why there is no need to give in to the hysteria that's all around us. He figured that this event would bring in a couple of thousand people at a handful of locations. It ended up hosted at almost 6,000 locations with over a million people in attendance nation-wide! Are people nowadays in need of Hope? You betcha!
Our Gospel today takes place at a time when the Apostles and disciples of Jesus felt a stark despair at the violent crucifixion and death of their Messiah and Lord. Jesus said He would rise again in three days, but this apparently hardly went through their minds. When some of their number told them that they had seen Jesus, immediately they were overjoyed. All except for Thomas. Everyone else took Jesus at His word, and took the word of those who saw Him risen. Why not Thomas?
Thomas probably was influenced by the Pharisaical mindset of the time that there was no resurrection from the dead. Yet Thomas also provides a lesson for us today, a lesson of who Jesus is. Thomas made strong demands, prerequisites before he would believe. It was not that Thomas refused to believe or closed his mind and heart to the very possibility of Jesus' resurrection. He needed proof.
Now, look at Jesus' response. During His three year ministry, He would often chastise His Apostles for being weak of faith, slow to believe. Even in Mark's Gospel, we see how His disciples refused to believe the reports of His resurrection, and Jesus rebuked them. Yet, here in today's Gospel, Jesus takes a different approach. Jesus comes and satisfies Thomas' demands. More than anything else, Jesus wanted Thomas to believe, so He did whatever was necessary to help that along. He wanted Thomas to experience the Hope that only by believing could he have.
When I was in 7 th grade, my class never had a steady home room teacher. We were good kids, but we needed leadership that we could count on. The only consistent teacher was Sr. Catherine, SCC, who taught us religion. She took this Gospel passage and singled out the line: “ Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” She told us, “That's you. All of you.” Jesus is talking about all of us. Jesus recognizes us, who live centuries after He walked on earth. At the time, I thought that Jesus was someone about whom we learned. When Sr. Catherine said that, I came to believe, understand and truly feel, that Jesus knew who I was.
If Jesus came to Thomas, realizing the doubting disciple's difficulty, and helped him believe, Jesus recognizes our difficulties and wants to help us along. In this world, it is very difficult to believe when everything is militating against Faith. That is why Jesus understands that we need tangible helps along the way to boost our faith. This is how He shows His mercy: through His Sacraments. When we find it difficult to believe and to cling to our Lord in a world that wants to cover over those images and pointers to Christ, let us come and find refuge in His Sacraments, those outward signs that communicate His grace to us. Especially, the holy Eucharist: Jesus own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we receive, let us remember Christ's Divine Mercy for each of us. He wants us to believe and will do whatever it takes to help this along, even give His very Body and Blood, His very Life!