“Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.”
Twentieth Century has witnessed significant scientific and technological invention, progress and development, but it is equally true that there were miseries and sufferings caused by the world wars, economic depression and political ambitions of selfish people. St. Faustina was chosen by the Lord to be an apostle of the Mercy of God, by letting the world knows about the love and compassion of the Lord. She was called to intervene in the lives of these people that they may find mercy of the Lord and experience forgiveness and healing of their souls.
St. Faustina lived only for 33 years, which is equal to the years of the Lord and most of her life was spend in convents in Poland. Yet her life has made an impact upon the world. In 1931 she had a vision of Jesus as the King of Divine Mercy, wearing a white gown and having white and red rays flowing from His side. She was told to paint this picture and under it put the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.” St. John Paul II said in his canonization homily that St. Faustina was told that the two rays coming from Jesus’ heart represented blood and water. Blood referred to the sacrifice of the cross, and the gift of the Eucharist. Water referred to the gifts of baptism and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told her, “My daughter, tell people that I am love and mercy personified.”
St. John Paul II said: This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”, which Providence initiated through Sr. Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life.
The first part of today’s Gospel (verses 19-23), Jesus appears to them in the Upper Room and greets them “peace be with you.” He breathes on the apostles the Holy Spirit and entrusted to them His mission of preaching the “Good News” of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. It is through the church this mission of Jesus is continued in the world. It also teaches us that the Church needs Jesus as its source of power and authority, and that it becomes Christ’s true messenger only when it perfectly loves and obeys Him. The risen Lord gives the apostles the power of imparting God’s mercy to the sinner through the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy. In the liturgy, the Church has proclaimed the mercy of God for centuries through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel text also reminds us that the clearest way of expressing our belief in the presence of the risen Jesus among us is through our own forgiveness of others. We can’t form a lasting Christian community without such forgiveness. Unless we forgive others, our celebration of the Eucharist is just an exercise of liturgical rubrics.
The second part of the Gospel (verses 24-29), presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas in his uncompromising honesty, demanding a personal vision of, and physical contact with, the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas had not been with the Apostles when Jesus first appeared to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus. Modern Christians, who are no longer able to “see” Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. That is why Paul reminds us that “Faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17).
The unique profession of Faith: Thomas, the “doubting” apostle, makes the great profession of Faith: “My Lord and my God.” Here, the most outrageous doubter of the Resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of belief in the Lord Who rose from the dead. This declaration by the “doubting” Thomas in today’s Gospel is very significant for two reasons. 1) It is the foundation of our Christian Faith. Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Jesus as proved by His miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. Thomas’ profession of Faith is the strongest evidence we have of the Resurrection of Jesus. 2) Thomas’ faith culminated in his self-surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52, his fearless preaching, and the powerful testimony given by his martyrdom in A.D. 72.
Breaking down barriers: To be witnesses of Jesus in the world, knowing that we have been sent to bring pardon, it is not important to have seen him, but to know that he is alive. Bringing peace and reconciliation is the practical and effective way of believing in the resurrection of Jesus. We will know that Jesus is alive without needing to touch his risen body, and we will feel in our hearts his life-giving breath, if we live by the pardon we have received and if we give life through deeds of reconciliation among men. The Christian who has used his hands to pardon has no need to touch the Risen Lord. He lives by his Spirit and for his mission. Nothing else is needed in order to believe. Happy are we if we know that Christ is alive. We live at peace in ourselves and we bring peace to the world!
The Christian who cannot forgive is not a living witness of the resurrection. It does not matter what evils the world may have caused him, because his capacity for forgiveness does not depend on the evil suffered but on the mandate of Jesus and the gift of his Spirit. The pardon we succeed in giving and the peace we restore will be the best proof of the resurrection of Jesus. If there is one thing needed in our world, in our society and in our hearts, it is to live reconciled, inwardly at peace, healed in the very depth of our being. Only the Christian, certain as he is that Jesus is alive, can count on the power and the duty to forgive others. If we Christians today do not take seriously the mission given us by the Risen Jesus, we lose not only his Spirit but also the very reason for our being in the world.
The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by the daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our faith through personal and community prayer. c) Third, we must share in the divine life of Jesus by frequenting the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Mother Teresa presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
As we celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy today may our celebration of the Holy Eucharist enable us to experience deep within the unfathomable mercy of Jesus flowing from his heart to each one of us to become ministers of mercy to our brothers and sisters in our homes, parish, society and the world at large.