Jesus Christ, true God, became one like us and lived here in this sinful world. He suffered and died on the Cross to save us from sin and death and to reconcile us to the Father. He rose from the dead so that we will be heirs of His eternal glory. He gave us His Holy Spirit so that we too can be children of the Father. He abides in us through His Eucharistic presence. Yet, we live in this world with fear? Why does fear still linger in our hearts after all that Jesus has achieved for us and still communicates to us today?
On the 7th day of the Divine Mercy Novena, Jesus says to St. Faustina, “Today bring to Me souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy and immerse them in My Mercy. These souls sorrowed most over My Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit.” In these words, Jesus revealed to St. Faustina the secret of entering into His spirit of peace in this world – venerate His mercy and glorify it. A peaceful spirit reigns in our hearts when we choose to be channels of divine mercy i.e. when we gratefully and reverently receive this mercy and make sacrifices to reflect this mercy and make it known to others.
St. John reminds us in the Second Reading that “the victory that conquers the world is our faith.” This faith is basically a manifestation of divine mercy because we have faith in God only because God, in His mercy, reveals Himself to us as the merciful God. If God does not reveal Himself to us at every single moment by varied means, we cannot dream of having any faith. Every sign that leads us to faith, that accompanies, sustains and confirms our faith, are all assurances of divine mercy. On the other hand, the person of true faith overcomes fear in the world because he or she sees signs of divine mercy in everything and in every person. Such a person does not dread God’s commandments and does not consider others a threat to peace: “His commandments are not burdensome…In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments.” Peace reigns in the heart when the faith received from and sustained by divine mercy is also reflected to others in loving deeds.
Sunday’s Gospel shows the disciples huddled in fear behind locked doors even after the Lord’s triumphant Resurrection: “The doors were locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews.” Jesus appears and offered them peace: “Peace be with you.” But this peace is neither something automatic nor something that comes from removing the source of fear. True interior peace will be theirs when they reverently receive His Spirit of reconciliation and bear it to others, whether the hostility of the Jews abates or not: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Beginning with doubting Thomas, they are to reflect to all peoples the same mercy that they had received from the risen Christ.
In Jesus Christ, we see the merciful face of God in our world. “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2Cor 5:19) Bearing the mercy of God in His very person, Jesus did not hesitate to suffer the brutal passion just to communicate this mercy to us. He does not only wish us peace by His words, but, in showing us His wounds, He shows us the price He was willing to pay so that we too experience the liberating power of divine mercy.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ sends us out just as the Father had sent Him. “As the Father has sent me, so do I send you.” Like Him, we too have a vocation to live in interior peace by being channels of divine mercy to others. If we are living in crippling fear today, then we need to ask ourselves the following set of questions, “What is my attitude to divine mercy in my life? Do I receive, revere, honor, and venerate His mercy in my life? Do I revere and esteem divine mercy as the source of all that I have and am, including my faith and every truly good and holy desires?” Secondly, “What sacrifices have I made to make this mercy visible to others? What have I endured in my life so as to communicate this priceless mercy to others in my thoughts, words and actions?”
Like the post-resurrection disciples, the temptation in a world of hostilities like ours is to withdraw and hide behind locked doors, to avoid any form of vulnerability. But locked doors cannot guarantee peace. Let us rather reflect to others what we have reverently received from the merciful love of God in Christ so that, like the early Christian community of Acts chapter 4, “there was no needy person among them.” If we reach out to the doubting Thomases in our midst and journey with them along the painful ways of soul-searching, if we refuse to bear grudges or resentments and choose forgiveness towards those who offend us, if we patiently bear with our loved ones who have lost the faith, if we refuse to abandon those who choose self-destructive lifestyles against our repeated counsels, we too shall slowly overcome our fears in this world. These are all invitations to be wounded for the sake of mercy. Our response to this invitation will determine our peace in this world.
We can indeed follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis in living without fear. Archbishop Georg Gänswein said that Pope Francis is not frightened by the several reports that the Islamic State has targeted him. On the other hand, the Pope is much more concerned about the jihadist group’s persecution and murder of Christians in the several Middle Eastern countries. Threats to his life do not deter him from his mission to proclaim the mercy of God that he has experienced. How can fear overcome such a heart?
In His merciful love, the Eucharistic Jesus whom we encounter today on this Feast of Divine mercy again offers us His peace and shows us His wounds. He shows us the wounds that He bore for us so that we might find mercy. Where are our own wounds?
Christ’ spirit of peace will surely reign in our hearts if we completely open our hearts to His merciful love and willingly bear any wound for the sake of reflecting this mercy to others.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!