2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)/B; 4-8-18
Acts 4:32-35 Ps 118 1 Jn 5:1-6 Jn 20:19-31
Deacon Jim McFadden; (New) Folsom Prison; SJB
The seven weeks between Easter Sunday and Pentecost constitutes the Easter season. While lest well known than Advent or Lent—people will give you strange looks when you say “Happy Easter” post-Easter Sunday—the Easter season is important because it gives us the time to absorb the significance and the experience of Jesus’ resurrection. And, by doing so, we reflect on the difference the Easter event makes in our own lives.
The first thing we have to deal with is that there is a difference between the pre-Easter and post-Easter presence of Jesus. Even though the doors were locked, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19). The Resurrected Christ does not enter through doors, as people with physical bodies do. This strongly suggests that the disciples have a spiritual realization of Jesus. They come to know the Risen Christ not through the eyes of physical seeing (what St. Bonaventure would call the ‘Eye of the Body’) or through the eye of rational thought (“Eye of the Mind’), but we can “see” him through the “Eye of the Soul’—that is, through Faith. So, the relationship we have with the Risen Christ is not bound by space and time. He is present to everyone and everything at any given moment.
The second problematic concern is that the Risen Christ is still the Wounded Jesus: “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (v. 20). Today, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, we are called to contemplate, along with Thomas and the other disciples, the wounds of the Risen One, Divine Mercy, which overcomes our limitations and shines into the darkness of evil and sin. But, why is the Risen Lord still wounded? He’s gone through his Passion and Death; why the wounds? He’s Resurrected; why can’t he appear without the signs of His ordeal? What we have to deal with is that the glorified Christ puts his Resurrection and woundedness together. Jesus is glorified—he is at-one with His Father, yet, he is still wounded. Somehow his very woundedness is his glory.
The early Church Fathers of the Church had a sense of this when they had this image of Jesus as standing eternally in the heavens with the palms of his hands opened before the face of the Father. It became a symbol of what glory meant. It’s a symbol for humanity, who go into eternity still in our wounded, broken state. It’s this mystery the Medievals were working with when they saw imperfect men and women die. So, they came to the insight of ‘purgatory’ to solve the problem for themselves.
We see this image in the Risen Christ, who brings his woundedness, his humanity before the Father and that itself is his glory. Why? Jesus could trust that his Father would love him in his woundedness and precisely because of his woundedness. We, also, are one day going to come before the Lord, not in any sense unblemished or perfect, but in our wounded humanity. Our final great act of trust is to believe, to hope, and to finally know that He can love us anyway—even in our imperfections and woundedness. That may be why He invited His doubting disciple to “Put your finger here, and see my hands…”
(Jn 21:27). In so doing, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation. By placing his finger into the imprint of the nails, he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected to follow Jesus, that he was understood in his fraility and brokenness. How many of us are like Thomas, who are searching deep within our hearts to meet Jesus just as He is: kind, merciful, and tender. For we know that deep down that Jesus is just like the one Thomas encountered.
May we hopefully have the courage to hold our wounded humanity before his face and to let him love it because it is only his love that makes us whole, believable to ourselves.
My brothers, it’s not fire that will burn away our imperfection, but it is the gaze of God, the perfect gaze of the Father. Let the Father love you in and through his Son Jesus. Let his love burn away your sinfulness and woundedness. When the Father gazes upon you through the wounds of his Son, all he sees is his beloved son. Let him love you.