On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name."
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, given by Christ's passion, death, and resurrection, come and inflame my heart in love.
How familiar is this Gospel to us, that of Christ coming through locked doors, meeting the disciples bound in fear, bringing them peace, dispelling their doubts, letting them Thomas touch His pierced yet beating Heart. There is a familiarity with this passage. Yet don't let the familiarity of the words cause you to gloss over how absolutely unfamiliar it is for all of us: we've never had another dead human person come walking, alive, into our dwellings three days later.
Place yourself there with the disciples, be among them as they come to encounter the reality of Christ's resurrection that definitely changed everything for them. All that the disciples would later proclaim, suffer and die for centered on this truth that Jesus IS alive and that He is God. Everything else melted away in the light of this greatest truth; everything that had collapsed for the disciples during Christ's Passion is rebuilt around this reality. He is alive. This is the truth that has been safeguarded by the Church and joyfully proclaimed throughout the centuries. The wounds that Christ held out to those eleven disciples that evening are the same wounds that have made the saints throughout the centuries. I recently stumbled upon a sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux-it was written regarding the Song of Songs but it is powerful to read in light of the present Gospel. Perhaps the Apostles could have said the same words, think of Peter, knowing He betrayed Christ now looking at His Wounds and hearing Jesus say "Peace be with You." Undoubtedly, St. Bernard only echos what the disciples were taught that evening:
"Where can the weak find a place of firm security and peace, except in the wounds of the Savior? Indeed, the more secure is my place there the more he can do to help me. The world rages, the flesh is heavy, and the devil lays his snares, but I do not fall, for my feet are planted on firm rock. I may have sinned gravely. My conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: he was wounded for our iniquities. What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ? And so if I bear in mind this strong, effective remedy, I can never again be terrified by the malignancy of sin.
Surely the man who said: My sin is too great to merit pardon, was wrong. He was speaking as though he were not a member of Christ and had no share in his merits, so that he could claim them as his own, as a member of the body can claim what belongs to the head. As for me, what can I appropriate that I lack from the heart of the Lord who abounds in mercy? They pierced his hands and feet and opened his side with a spear. Through the openings of these wounds I may drink honey from the rock and oil from the hardest stone: that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet
....Through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of his heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high. Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously that in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy? More mercy than this no one has than that he lay down his life for those who are doomed to death.
My merit comes from his mercy; for I do not lack merit so long as he does not lack pity. And if the Lord’s mercies are many, then I am rich in merits. For even if I am aware of many sins, what does it matter? Where sin abounded grace has overflowed. And if the Lord’s mercies are from all ages for ever, I too will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever. Will I not sing of my own righteousness? No, Lord, I shall be mindful only of your justice. Yet that too is my own; for God has made you my righteousness.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us bring joy to our Lord by a greater confidence in the security and mercy given freely from His pierced side.
Prayer: Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Amen.