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Monday, April 20, 2009

Jesus' Mercy Brings Peace and Forgiveness and Demands Trust

2nd Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday April 19, 2009 (Jn 20:19-31)

By Dean Louis Bascon

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

And when he had said this, h
e breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."

But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."

Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may co
me to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

The Gospel for today presents to us the disciples locked in a room, afraid for their own lives. Perhaps, we could also say that, aside from fear, they were also in sorrow for the death of their beloved Master, and were repenting for abandoning him in his passion.

The disciples were probably reprimanding themselves for being such cowards. They "locked" themselves in that room of fear, sorrow for sins, regret and self-reprimand. They were probably thinking that what they did, or did not do for Jesus, was an unforgivable sin. They were also, perhaps, unable to forgive themselves.

In this dreadful scene, Jesus entered, although the doors were locked. He showed them his hands and his sides, the wounds which signified the death he had defeated. He greeted them, "Peace be with you." And they rejoiced.

The risen Lord gave peace to His disciples. If you read the Gospel passage carefully, you'd notice that Jesus gave the greeting of peace thrice. Together with peace, He also brought forgiveness, though he did not mention it explicitly. Just seeing the risen Lord was enough for the disciples to feel at peace, confident that they have been forgiven. Jesus now extends this gift of peace and forgiveness to the whole Church, and even to us, by saying, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20:23). With these words, He instituted the sacrament of His mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as a gift of peace for all His disciples.

In our lives, we often live like the disciples, locking ourselves in rooms filled with grief and sorrow. It's fine if our sorrow is a sorrow for sin, but even this should not hinder us from letting Jesus enter our hearts and show us how He defeated all sorrow and death. We must never lose confidence in Jesus' mercy. He is alive, and His resurrection is our hope.

This Sunday, we also reflect on the story of doubting Thomas. Like the disciples, he was too overwhelmed by grief. He had lost all hope and did not even believe the testimony of his fellow disciples who had seen the Lord. What happened to Thomas reminds us of the value of faith. Faith, by definition, is believing without sufficient evidence. As Christians, we live by faith. We believe in a God whom we have never seen, for we have experienced Him in our lives.

Jesus' mercy calls us to trust in Him, to have faith in Him so that He could pour out His peace and forgiveness unto our hearts. We need to believe that Jesus is loving enough, and is powerful enough to bring us out of the misery of our locked rooms.

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