Today marks the 20th anniversary of the day’s institution by Pope St. John Paul II and of St. Faustina’s canonization.
Jesus came . . . and stood in their midst. (John 20:26)
Jesus had appeared to the disciples on Easter Sunday. So why did he come a week later to the exact same place? Perhaps it was because this time Thomas was there, and Jesus wanted to convince this doubt-ridden disciple that he had truly risen from the dead.
Jesus could have stayed away, but he didn’t want to leave Thomas in that state. So he invited Thomas to touch his wounds and see that it was really him. And that act of compassion and patience—that act of mercy—led Thomas to proclaim, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Eventually, that mercy would lead Thomas to travel far and wide proclaiming the gospel and, in the end, give his life for his Lord.
Thomas’ story shows us that God’s mercy involves more than just the forgiveness of our sins, great as that is. It also involves his compassion for our weakness and his patience with our slow progress. It’s a wide mercy that frees us from our doubts, fears, and guilt as well as our sin. Like Thomas, it allows us to experience Jesus’ divine life more fully so that we can follow him wherever he leads us.
In the end, God’s mercy cannot be separated from his love. He is love and he is mercy—that is his very nature. Every day Jesus comes and stands in our midst, desiring to show us that he is our Lord and God. Every day he wants to take away our doubts and fears and forgive our every sin. Every day he wants to open us to more of his life and blessings.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of divine mercy! As you continue to read from the Book of Acts this Easter season, know that every miracle the apostles did, every word they spoke, was grounded in the mercy they had first received—and continued receiving to the end of their lives. God’s mercy is the foundation of your life too, a mercy that is new every morning, a mercy that will never, ever end (Lamentations 3:22-23)!
In his homily for this day, Pope Francis stated:
"On this feast of Divine Mercy, the most beautiful message comes from Thomas, the disciple who arrived late; he was the only one missing. But the Lord waited for Thomas. Mercy does not abandon those who stay behind. Now, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind. The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference. A virus spread by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me. It begins there and ends up selecting one person over another, discarding the poor, and sacrificing those left behind on the altar of progress. The present pandemic, however, reminds us that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer. We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family! Let us learn from the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. It received mercy and lived with mercy: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This is not some ideology: it is Christianity."
"Today the simple and disarming love of Jesus revives the heart of his disciple. Like the apostle Thomas, let us accept mercy, the salvation of the world. And let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a new world."
God of everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed.