We Want Proof

Dcn. John Stanley’s Homily April 28, 2019

“For approximately 8 years between 1930 to 1938, Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina, a simple cloistered nun from Poland and he asked her to write down what he said to her.  Jesus told her that he desired that the Church add a feast day to the church calendar and Jesus was very specific about the purpose of this feast day and he was specific about where he wanted it to be placed on the Liturgical calendar.  Listen to the words of Jesus recorded by Faustina. ‘My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the feast of mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of my tender mercy are open.  I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the font of my mercy. The feast of mercy emerged from my very depths of tenderness. It is my desire that it be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the fount of my mercy.’  On April 30th, 2000 at the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II declared that this Sunday be known as Divine Mercy Sunday

In today’s Gospel on that evening of the day of the resurrection, Jesus suddenly appears to his apostles.  They are fearfully huddled behind locked doors in the upper room. No doubt they are thinking that the Roman soldiers will next come after them.  They are not feeling peace. They’re full of angst and fear and then they hear those words of mercy, ‘Peace be with you.’ In this Gospel and in the words of St. Faustina, Jesus tells us that we will never experience true peace until it becomes the fount of his own mercy and mercy is not merely an attribute of God for mercy is the essence of God for God is love and mercy is what flows from the font of God’s love.  In our Gospel we read that Thomas refused to believe for he was a skeptic, Doubting Thomas. Unless he probed the nail marks with his fingers and placed his hand into the side where blood and water gushed forth from Jesus, he would not believe. This is exactly what many of us suffer from, this inability to have that genuine faith in God, in His love and in His mercy. Today we are locked in our own private upper room constructed with walls of our angst and our fear and like Thomas, we are not present to hear those soothing words of compassion granting us his peace for we have no room for the grace of God to enter in to us because we are already full, full of ourselves.  What caused Thomas to doubt? Was he more intelligent than his gullible colleagues? Today, the term Doubting Thomas is not really seen as a criticism for we take pride in being from the ‘Show Me State’. We want proof.  We want certainty and wasn’t it just a healthy dose of skepticism that prevented Thomas from acknowledging the truth and the reality of the Lord’s resurrection?  No. Thomas doubted because of his ego and his pride for pride is the root cause of all sinfulness. Pride prevents us from admitting our weaknesses, our mistakes, our shortcomings and we are all like Thomas.  We tell ourselves that we have faith, but we doubt. We’re fickle. In the Gospel we hear that beautiful prayer of exhortation, ‘Lord I believe! Help my unbelief.’ One week after the resurrection again on the first day of the week, Jesus invited Thomas to take on his doubts, to humble himself, to acknowledge that he, Thomas, is a sinner and he invites him to believe.  Thomas was able to confront his sinful pride and acknowledge the divinity of Jesus. Doubting Thomas became St. Thomas. He makes this beautiful profession of faith that’s been recited throughout the millennia, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Today on this second Sunday of Easter, Jesus asks the same thing of you and me. He wants to free us from our anxiety and our fear which leads to doubt and doubt results in cynicism.  He wants to give us his true peace, to respond and Thomas did, we must humble ourselves and acknowledge our sinfulness and trust in his mercy for our world is troubled, our Church is wounded, Bishops and priests have committed grievous sins and we wonder why the Church reacts so slowly. Churches are being bombed. Christians are violently attacked and killed. Non-believers now outnumber believers and many of us are luke-warm.  We allow God’s mercy to pass over our exterior, but we do not allow God’s mercy to enter into our hearts. When his mercy enters into our hearts then we too can become merciful as God is merciful. ‘For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.’”