THE DOUBTING THOMAS, COMMUNITY LIFE AND THE DIVINE MERCY
📕Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118:2-4, 15c-16b, and 17-18m, 22-24 (R.v.1); 1 John 5:1-7; John 20:19-31
THE DOUBTING THOMAS, COMMUNITY LIFE AND THE DIVINE MERCYLast year, the liturgy of this very day brought to our view the role of faith in the life of every Christian. This year, while that role is still kept in view, the role of love in Christian life is also made more explicit. The First Reading and the Second point out how that love is lived and harnessed in the Christian community.
In the First Reading, which is a summary statement, the early Christian community lived a common life that helped them to grow in love and, by extension, faith. We are told that they that the community lived with one heart and one mind (Acts 4:32), and, sharing what they had in common, none of them lacked anything (Acts 4:34-35). Remember that Jesus had said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Christianity is a vocation of love. We become Christians, children of God, by believing in the name of Jesus (cf. John 1:12); not only by believing, but also by keeping his commandments (cf. 1 John 5:1). The greatest commandment, as Jesus did inform us, is love (cf. Matt 22:36-40). Therefore, we shall be failing to live out our Christian vocation if we fail to show much love to those around us, especially within our ecclesial communities. Nobody can walk alone and reap the benefit of the resurrection of Jesus in full.
At a time, Thomas left the community of believers after the death of Jesus. Indeed many of the disciples left but Jesus never left them. Remember the encounter he had with those ones on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and now the different appearances to the disciples. Thomas was not able to have the experience of this appearance because he was not in the community. But for this second time, he was part of them and so shared in the experience. However, he needed more than the experience; he needed to touch Jesus.
Remember the previous instances where people touched Jesus and got their healing or were saved (cf. Mark 5:27-29, 41-42). So, Thomas needed to touch Jesus to be healed of his faithlessness and annihilation after lapsing in faith and separating himself from the community.
Note that it was not Thomas that invited Jesus to come again neither did he request Jesus to allow him put his hands in his wounds. Jesus knew his need of that healing and reached out to give it to him. That is what we call Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy is the celebration of the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s heart towards those in need of it. It is an unmerited love. St. Paul noted that God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). A perfect celebration of this love therefore should be in the transmission of that same love to others, especially those who do not merit it.
St. John Paul II gave us an example of this transmission of that great love of Christ. In 1983, he went to the cell of Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981, and forgave him.
Is there anyone who wronged you that you are yet to forgive? You can begin the celebration of this Mercy of God from there. Forgive him/her and you would be building a strong community of faith and love for Christ.
May the Divine continue to envelope you in all your undertakings. Amen
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday. Peace be with you.