April 28, 2019: Divine Mercy Sunday C
Which of the following statements do you agree with more? ”I will believe it when I see it,” or “I will see it if I believe it.” At the heart of these two contrasting statements is the matter of trust. The first statement implies, “Prove it. I won’t trust until I see the proof.” The second statement implies, “I trust.” Depending on which statement we embrace, determines the way we perceive the world. For example, if we think the world is a grim place, full of evil and selfish people, then that’s what we will often notice around us. But if we believe that God planted goodness in the world with good people then we will see the world filled with opportunities for the goodness of God to flourish. It is natural for our faith journey to begin by demanding signs and proofs then progress to simply trusting. With each encounter with Risen Jesus, we move from seeking signs from Jesus to simply trusting Jesus. We notice this progression of faith in Apostle Thomas.
Thomas was not present when Risen Christ appeared to the apostles on Easter Sunday evening. He refused to believe the apostles’ story of their encounter with Risen Jesus stating, “Unless I put my finger in the nail marks in his hands and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Poor Thomas has been stuck with the nickname, “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But just because he demanded a sign didn’t make him a second-rate apostle. He was grieving terribly the death of Jesus whom he followed as a devoted disciple. His encounter with Risen Jesus changed him. Jesus in his mercy gave Thomas the sign he desperately needed--an opportunity to put his finger in Jesus’ hands and side. Thomas was now unconditionally committed to Jesus as he cried out aloud, “My Lord and my God!”
I was a doubting Thomas in my younger years. Plenty of folks quoted scripture to me, but I needed proof of a Good God. St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “Distrust hurts [Jesus’] most sweet Heart, which is full of goodness and incomprehensible love for us.” (Diary, 595) Distrust of Jesus means that we are choosing not to commit ourselves into His care. Distrust and doubt are understandable in a world which promises self-sufficiency by way of material goods and comforts so readily available. As we rely more and more on worldly things, we trust more in the world than trust in God. A person who doubts Jesus or even questions the existence of God may ask, ‘Why is there a need to trust God when this world provides me with everything I need?’ Yet a rosy world view cannot mask the reality of contradictions, conflicts, evil, and injustice found in our own daily experience.
Divine Mercy is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the Risen Christ and offers to humanity. Our Lord told St. Faustina, "Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy" (Diary, 300). The simple words written on the bottom of the image of the Divine Mercy, “Jesus, I trust in You,” reminds us that only in Jesus will we find peace amid our brokenness, despair, and injustice. God has given us this special feast of Divine Mercy Sunday so that we will receive the grace of childlike trust in God and love of neighbor. Our sister in faith, St. Faustina is praying for us today in order for us to unconditionally commit ourselves into the care of Jesus. Let her words from her diary sink in our hearts today, "O doubting souls, I will draw aside for you the veils of heaven to convince you of God's goodness" (Diary, 281). Each time we pray and sing the Chaplet, let us be grateful to God for the gift of mercy which comes from the Risen Christ.