or Divine Mercy Sunday
The Holy Gospel that the Liturgy presents to us on this second Sunday of Easter, is one of the most well known, discussed, and appreciated—the meeting of the Risen Lord with St Thomas. The Fathers of the Church have given us numerous insights into this Gospel text.
Likewise, it is has proven the inspiration to the numerous artists who have physically represented the events of this Gospel in order to give us a clear idea of what happened,‘eight days after’ the first apparition of the Risen One, to the disciples congregated in the cenacle.
Jesus’ response to Thomas, after he recognized Him as ‘My Lord and my God’, has a mysterious fascination that must relate not so much to the disciples—those who ‘have seen’— but rather to those, like us, who were added to their number afterwards. ‘You have come to believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’ (Jn 20:29)
The attention that these words evoke seams yet more paradoxical if we remember that the Lord had proposed, to the same author of the Gospel, what can be justly referred to as the Christian method, ‘come and see’ (Jn 1:39). How can we possibly reconcile these two phrases by Jesus that form the ideal setting for the whole of the fourth Gospel? Perhaps, in the end, the Lord decided to change His method? What do the words ‘have not seen’ really mean?
The timely recollection of the ‘eight days after,’ which is the Sunday after the Resurrection, permits us to tie our reflection to one of the most significant Eucharistic hymns composed by another Thomas, St Thomas Aquinas. In the Adore Te Devote, which refers to the Eucharist, we read:
Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgement of you. But hearing suffices firmly to believe’.
Combining these words with today’s Gospel we can justly affirm that the experience ‘to see’ was not denied to us, but it is in contrast with the Apostle Thomas’ physical experience, who was able to put his own finger into the holes in Christ’s hands and side, whilst we can only comprehend it in the faith which is guarded and transmitted by the Church, our Mother and Teacher.
That which we ‘have not seen’ is therefore the glorious Body of the Risen One. However, today we have the ability to ‘listen’ to the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church and so we can ‘see’ the real Body of Christ which is the Eucharist. We can ‘see’ His Mystical Body which is the Church. We can ‘see’ Him in our lives and in the lives of our many brothers who, after meeting the Lord in a real but mysterious way, are united to Him in His Spirit!
Like Thomas, Christ calls us to fill the holes left by the instruments of the passion in His Body with our own hands so that our lives and the verbal witness that we give proclaim His Resurrection. Our senses could betray us, but we know that we have met the Risen One and we have recognized Him!
The certain hope that Peter, who betrayed the Lord three times for fear of death, proclaims to us with the words, ‘rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy’ (1 Peter 1:8), become fully comprehensible because blessed are they that ‘have not seen’ the Risen Lord, but seeing the joy of His disciples ‘have believed’ in Him!
From the Congregation for the Clergy