Gospel John 20:19-31
There is a phrase or saying – Religiosity without mercy is terrorism. Many of us know of countries or areas of the world where in the Name of God; people are killed, in the name of religion; people are persecuted. Even because of the different religions among families, there is fighting. This is the work of the devil. God unites.
The word religion is – religare – to connect. If religion is not helping us to connect with God, with ourselves and with others, then there is something wrong. The centrality of our religiosity is mercy. Mercy is the source of joy. Think about our personal lives, when we experience periods of darkness, depression, unbelief, when we struggle with our faith and our human hearts, when we couldn’t find simple joy. At the back of our minds, unconsciously we knew, in these situations, that mercy and reconciliation was needed.
Today as we come to Celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, when we think about those we need to forgive, we need to offer that sacrifice with faith, then only will the fruits of our efforts come out.
The lack of mercy is the cause of atheism. Sometimes these people that don’t believe in God, don’t believe in the Church, and criticise us, are those that were looking for mercy and didn’t find it. At the back of their souls is the need for mercy. They don’t need us to fight with them or to convince them about God. All they need is kindness, understanding and mercy. Probably in that way they will discover God.
In today’s Gospel there are a few elements we are invited to reflect on.
* The doors were shut
The doors were closed because the disciples were in fear. Many doors are closed today in our lives, in our families, in our community. These are the doors of self-protection, self-preservation or culture. Sometimes culture goes against our values of faith and humanity, it prevents our freedom. We don’t need to destroy this culture because each culture has its own value. But culture needs to transform and to evolve. We need the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us discern the values of our culture and promote the values that can elevate us to the mercy of God. The doors were shut but Jesus came.
* Peace be with you
Today we hear this sentence three times. Let us for a moment of silence, listen to Jesus speaking these words to us. Where do you need peace? Peace is not a feeling, it is not an emotion. E-motions are something that moves. Peace is something that stays – in the middle of storms; it helps us to find comfort in the time of sorrows and difficulties. Let us ask our Lord today that this peace can be nourished because of the fruits of our efforts. Today there are many religions and cultures that want to sell us peace, miracles and emotions. Jesus doesn’t want that for us.
* Receive the Holy Spirit & Forgive
The Holy Spirit is the source of peace and the strength for forgiveness. Jesus said – Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
Let us also today appeal to that gift of the Holy Spirit to give us that courage because mercy and forgiveness needs courage and strength.
Thomas was not with the community. He struggles to believe. We need the community to believe and nourish our faith, to support us in the times of our lack of faith. Thomas wants to see and Jesus shows him the wounds. When Jesus appears after His Resurrection, He carried His wounds with Him, but they are no longer painful. How are your wounds? We can carry the scars of our wounds but they should no longer be painful and infectious. How can we say we believe and pray when we don’t allow these wounds to be healed and resurrected? Let us today be aware of our wounds and put them on the Altar for healing, for reconciliation and for the peace of God.
Let us be like Thomas, to be able to cry out and say – Yes, I believe that the Lord is doing many wonders and works.
But we are humble to also say – We are work in progress, nothing is concluded, we are in a journey of being aware of the gifts of the Lord, to receive the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness and coming back to the community – the place of healing, of worship, the place where we can strengthen our faith. Amen.