What a great blessing to be with you. And this is a great day for our Adult RCIA candidates who will be receiving Confirmation today.
Today our hearts are still filled with Easter joy! Today we continue to celebrate the victory of the Cross and Resurrection. The victory of life over death, of good over evil, of the Father of mercies over the father of lies.
This is a special day too in the life of the universal Church — we are celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
As we know, this custom of celebrating the Sunday after Easter as Mercy Sunday was started by St. John Paul II, who was inspired by the visions of St. Faustina.
We are all familiar with the image of Jesus that St. Faustina had painted. The painting shows Jesus with the rays of light flowing from out of his wounded side, like the blood and water that flowed from his heart on the Cross.
And this is the image of Jesus that we see in today’s Gospel. At the beginning of the Gospel passage that we just heard, it’s still Easter — it’s evening on that first Easter night.
And the apostles and the other disciples are all afraid. They’ve got the doors locked because they don’t really know what’s going on. They found the empty tomb, but they don’t really understand what that means. So as we heard, suddenly Jesus is standing in their midst.
And as I’m sure you noticed, the drama in the Gospel is centered on the wounds of Jesus — the holes in his hands from the nails that held him to the Cross; the wound in his side.
The apostles see these wounds and they believe. But St. Thomas is not there. And we heard those familiar words of doubt and fear:
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now. As we know, the wound in the side of Jesus was made by the soldier who pierced him as Jesus hung on the Cross.
This wound is the “proof” that the risen Jesus is “real” — that this is really him and he is really alive. But more than that — his wounded side is “proof” of God’s mercy, proof that his love for us is real.
That is why we have that image from St. Faustina. That is why we have Mercy Sunday. Because this wound in the side of Jesus — this wound in his side is the gateway to his heart! It is the gateway to his mercy and love!
My brothers and sisters, the heart of Jesus is the heart of God. And it is a heart of mercy. It is the heart of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
As we remember, on Good Friday when that soldier pierced his side, blood and water flowed out of the heart of Jesus. The living waters of Baptism, the precious Blood of the Eucharist.
And in this Easter season, Jesus is calling us to these living waters of mercy and grace that flow from his heart. He is inviting us just as he invited St. Thomas. He is saying to us:
Bring your hand and put it into my side and do not be unbelieving, but believe.
Jesus St. Thomas did, we need to draw near to the heart of the risen Lord. This is the time for us to accept the beautiful gift of his mercy in our lives. There is no reason for doubt or fear. Jesus has risen from the dead. My brothers and sisters, we can believe in his love, we can believe in what he has done for us on the Cross.
We don’t have to look back, now. The past is behind us — we have been forgiven, we have been redeemed! There is no need for tears or regrets. If we have been weak and fallen, he picks up! In his mercy he saves us.
The world is now streaming with the light of his mercy — the same light that the holy women and the apostles experienced at the empty tomb.
This Mercy Sunday means that there is a whole new moment in our lives. Rising from the dead, Jesus is now walking with us — just as he walked with those first apostles. And he is showing us the path of mercy, the path of compassion.
We have all been born from the mercy of God — and we are called to live that mercy in our everyday lives. Jesus wants us to be merciful to others as our heavenly Father is merciful to us.
My brothers and sisters, this is an invitation to live our lives in a whole new way. This is an invitation to love with the heart of Jesus — with a heart that is humble and full of love, a heart that is merciful and open to the needs of others.
We have to be apostles of mercy.
We saw that powerful image of St. Peter in the first reading. He was so filled with God’s grace that when his shadow touched someone — that person was healed.
Now, I don’t think any of us can do that. At least not yet! But we can bring joy to others and change their lives. We can touch them with the mercy of God. This is our beautiful duty now as Christians, as “Easter people.”
Mercy is our “work,” our daily task. Mercy starts in the heart and is practiced in deeds. In acts of kindness — and especially acts of forgiveness. God is patient with us, so we should be patient with others. God loves to forgive us, so we should be generous in offering forgiveness to others.
Mercy means serving others with love — with our hearts always open to their needs, their hurts, and their longings. And we need to really believe what Jesus told us — that what we do for others, we do for him.
In the second reading we heard tonight, the apostle St. John tell us of his glorious encounter with the risen Jesus. And Jesus tells him: “Do not be afraid.”
That’s right, my brothers and sisters. He’s saying the same thing to us. Don’t be afraid to reach out to Jesus. Don’t be afraid to follow him — and to make mercy the way for your life.
That image of Divine Mercy that we associate with St. Faustina, always includes the little prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you!” This should be our prayer too — many times every day we can pray, “Jesus, I trust in you!”
So let us ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy.
May she inspire us and may we follow her example in opening our hearts to God and his mercy.
1. Readings (Second Sunday of Easter, Year C): Acts 5:12-16; Ps. 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev. 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31.