Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

“Doubting Thomas.” Aren’t we all at some point a “Doubting Thomas?” I am sure that the beautiful things St Thomas did while accompanying Jesus in his ministry as an apostle would much outshine the one part of scripture that seems to have pigeon-holed him into being just a doubter, but I believe this Sunday’s gospel ranks St Thomas high on my list of favorites for a few important reasons.  Read on…

Gospel JN 20:19-31

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.
St. Thomas was honest and real...
How many times have we been through a difficulty and felt vulnerable? Hope escapes us when we have been hurt.  I would venture to say that with all of the evil that has infiltrated our world (and even our churches), St. Thomas’ skepticism in this reading represents most of today’s faithful at one time or another.  How can I trust again, Lord?
St. Thomas was using his braintoo much?
Child-like faith is what scripture tells us we are to use when we turn to God, Our Loving Father, in prayer.  Participating in this week’s Divine Mercy Novena, Day six’s intention is for “the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children”, and goes on to say:
“These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites.  They are the sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance.”  —Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul
When I read this intention, my heart immediately jumped to not only small children, but to every person with Down’s Syndrome or any kind of condition that means life is a simple journey of dependence on God and others without considering much of self-sufficiency.  I believe these special souls teach the rest of us how to live.
In a world where education and intellect is valued way beyond spirit and human dignity, is it any wonder that we are all trying as Thomas did to depend on our own experience and knowledge to understand what can only be embraced by faith and surrender?
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy…
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday: an exclamation point at the close of the Easter Octave. St. Thomas reminds us of our own humanity.  He is bold to step out and say “I don’t get it, I need help to believe.” Perhaps the other apostles felt the same, but were afraid to admit it. It doesn’t really matter.  What this gospel says to me is that Christ understood what Thomas needed in his humanity.  He needed a little help.  He needed a little mercy.
God of unfathomable mercy, embrace the whole world and pour Yourself out upon us through the merciful Heart of Jesus.
 Diary of St. Faustina, 1183 

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