Jesus came and stood among them
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of the Easter season. It was named by Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Maria Faustina on April 30, 2000, and then officially decreed by the Vatican. The feast focuses the light of the Risen Christ into a radiant beam of merciful love and grace for the whole world.
Today’s Gospel combines two scenes: Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas, the disciple who doubted. Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit, but in bodily form. We know from readings such as today’s that in his resurrected form, Jesus was not bound by matter; he appeared to the disciples inside a home even though the door was locked. Yet the disciples could still touch the marks of his Crucifixion. Jesus gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they will be able to accomplish this task. Jesus’ words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share forgiveness and reconciliation with others.
Thomas, the doubting disciple in today’s reading, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of witnesses to Jesus. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. Our human nature seeks hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to his disciples after his death is indeed the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative in obtaining this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed, for we have not seen and yet believe.