“This 8th day in the octave of Easter is a time of continuing to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. In a very real way every Sunday is a mini-celebration of the resurrection because the resurrection of Jesus is certainly at the very heart of our faith, our acknowledgement that Christ not only died upon the cross, but truly rose from the dead and is still present to us, still present in giving us his grace and his love. It’s interesting to me that on the evening of the resurrection when Jesus appears to the apostles as we heard in the Gospel today, the very first gift he gives them is the gift of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven.’ That the great fruit of the death and the resurrection of Jesus is the forgiveness of our sins and through that forgiveness that whole new life of grace that we are called to share in that life truly of experiencing the divine mercy of God.
Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday recognizing God’s merciful love for each and every one of us and particularly that the sacrament of reconciliation is the manifestation of God’s mercy truly that work of forgiveness of enabling us to know peace within our hearts to know healing grace to know that forgiveness that God alone can bring to our hearts and our lives and so we are called to appreciate that wonderful gift of God’s mercy manifested in so many ways, but particularly within that sacrament of the Lord’s forgiveness. Today in Divine Mercy there’s what they call the ‘ABC’s of Divine Mercy.’
A is ask for mercy. That takes humility to ask for mercy. I think we live in a world that there is so much pride that people don’t even acknowledge sin as sin. It’s so easy for us to gloss over and even to buy in to what is sin as if it’s a virtue as if it’s a good and yet sin is sin as we are reminded in that second reading today where the violation of God’s commandment is truly sinful, but Jesus brings mercy brings forgiveness, to ask for forgiveness.
Secondly, the B is to be forgiven. Be merciful yourself. Be merciful towards others. Be kind. Be understanding. Be loving even enough to challenge others and finally C is to completely trust. The Divine Mercy picture at the bottom says, ‘Jesus I trust in you.’ We live with so much anxiety and worry, but the Divine Mercy invites us to trust in God’s loving presence and his care for us and to help us to make prudent decisions, but also to know that we are in God’s hands and God’s will is our happiness not only here, but eternally and so we are invited to reflect upon God’s mercy.
In that Gospel today we also have Thomas and I love the apostle Thomas, he’s my patron so I’m a little biased I’ll admit, but I love Thomas because he wasn’t gonna be duped by the other apostles. He said, ‘I’m not gonna believe you guys. I’m not gonna believe you. Unless I put my fingers in his hand and my hand into his side, don’t count me in.’ He was not believing, but unbelieving. And then when Jesus appears to him Jesus says, ‘Put your finger into my hand. Put your hand into my side and do not be unbelieving but believing.’ I love Thomas because he affirms, I think our own act of faith, our willingness to say, ‘Yes Lord I know that you are with me.’ and Thomas’ response is that beautiful prayer, ‘My Lord and My God.’ and that is a prayer that each of us can say every day. We can say it as we look upon the host consecrated, the body of Christ, the blood of Christ that when we receive Jesus in holy communion to make that simple act of faith, ‘My Lord and my God.’
One of the things that is important is that Jesus in his resurrected body in his glorified body continues to carry the marks of his Passion. He continues to carry the signs of his crucifixion, the hands with the holes from the nails, the side pierced by the lance that Jesus carries those into eternity because he carries that one sacrifice upon the cross into the eternal union with the Father and it is the glorified Christ who becomes present in every Eucharist. At every Eucharist that we celebrate we say the body of Christ given over the blood of Christ poured out. It truly is sacramentally, but very truly the body and the blood of Christ who is glorified in heaven today, but who carries with him the marks of the Passion and so it is that renewal of that sacrifice as we experience the glory of Christ each time we join with him in the Eucharist. How tremendously blessed we are, the opportunity to deepen our relationship with God to know the power of the Lord’s forgiveness that none of us needs to walk with guilt in this life, but rather with freedom for Jesus came to bring us freedom and he brings us that freedom through the wonderful gift of his divine mercy his love for us shown in all the sacraments especially reconciliation and through the Eucharist. And what is our response? It is just a very simple act of faith, ‘My Lord and my God.’”