The Beating of Hearts
[Acts 4:32-35. Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24. 1 Jn 5:1-6. Jn 20:19-31.]
When the new fire was lit on Saturday’s Vigil last week—and the Paschal Candle burning reminds us of this—it it was light in the darkness of a world gone very much wrong.
It is the fire of love that overcomes death.
It is the fire of a love that is Christ our Light.
It is the light of God’s mercy for the whole world.
I hope it went well if you went on a Lenten journey this year in your heart, in your mind, in your soul—if you journeyed with Jesus.
Because if you did, the journey took you to the cross.
It took you to the grave.
It took you to a tomb that waited like some kind of earthen mouth to swallow up the body of Christ.
And if you were on the journey, you saw some pretty astounding things! Lazarus is raised from the dead! …do you believe this?
The kingdom is proclaimed to a sinful woman at a well in Samaria.
To foreigners, to sinners, to outcasts.
The blind see, the deaf hear.
Lepers are cured.
The outsiders are given hope—people who had no business, no reason to hope….
Walls of racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism, and every kind of intolerance and injustice begin to tumble!
Prophesy is fulfilled!
And the bread that is the life of the world is shared with two disciples on the way—on the journey, because Jesus is present with them.
…Do you believe this?
Well, here in the Gospel, the disciples do not!
After all, the disciples are—in their minds—still back at Golgotha, still back at the tomb. Still, perhaps in the dark.
–they saw him die!
They stood in fear that awful Good Friday, so very far away from the center of the action--the crux of the matter.
And watched the cross, and they probably looked at the tomb.
But they encountered only the silence of that stone.
That is where they are in their mindset when Jesus walks into the upper room, right through the locked doors.
Right through closed and fearful hearts.
With His message of peace.
Imagine yourselves there: You are sitting in fear, thinking you might be the next ones to incur the wrath of the religious or political establishment, and the man whom you saw die comes into the room!
He gives you His peace!
He breathes His Holy Spirit on you.
Chains of fear have been broken.
Because of His Divine Mercy!
And then there’s Thomas—the “doubter.”
He’s not going to believe unless he puts his hands into the nail marks.
He is also the one who told Jesus that he didn’t know where Jesus was going.
He was the one who when Jesus set out to raise Lazarus from the dead, said, “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16).
Wow, what a background! A real skeptic!
But what about you and me? After all, aren’t you glad there was a Thomas? He is someone who represents us all.
He has trouble believing at times.
He needs all the help he can get!
And so Jesus comes back through the closed doors a second time—just for Thomas—just for you and me.
Jesus invites Thomas to touch the wounds.
If you listened carefully to the Gospel account, you know that Thomas is never reported to have put his hands to he wounds.
All Thomas could say was: “My Lord and my God!”
And, so now we see that Thomas the skeptic—just by seeing Jesus,
goes from the prototype unbeliever
to the person who announces the full identity of Jesus: Lord and God!
He saw and believed!
Do we believe? Can we really wrap our minds around the Truth that is based in God who walks among us in the person of Jesus Christ? Do you see it in the signs of the times, in the people you know and don’t know?
The evidence is overwhelming…
It is the believing that allows us truly to see!
We celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.
We celebrate God who is such a divine lover, a lover extraordinaire, that He is relentless in his pursuit of all of us who are weak in spirit, hard of heart, slow to believe.
And this beautiful feast came about through the message of Jesus to one little nun, the beautiful Sister Faustina, closeted away in a cloister in Poland.
This feast was made present in the Church through Pope John Paul II, exactly where Jesus wanted it: on the Second Sunday of Easter.
Even St. Thomas is reported to have asked for this feast in honor of Jesus. Thomas asked that the story of Jesus who showed him the wounds be told according to the story we heard today.
We read that in an ancient source—The Apostolic Constitutions—the oldest document on the liturgy.
Jesus shows us the close connection between the Easter mystery of redemption and this feast.
It is a day of grace for all people, particularly for sinners.
Jesus attaches great promises to this feast. One is the promise of complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. It offers a completely new beginning—akin to baptism.
In a vision to Sister Faustina, Jesus told her:
I Myself act in your soul.
If trust is great, there is no limit to my generosity.
Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart…when will it beat for me”?
When will our hearts truly beat for Him? Our souls be truly attuned to Jesus?
Jesus told Sister Faustina:
My daughter, tell the whole world
about My inconceivable mercy. ….
On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.
I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.
Here is what the Holy Father said about all this in 1997:
“There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy—that love which
is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness
to the infinite heights of the holiness of God.
“And it is a message that is clear and understandable for everyone. Anyone
can … look at this image of the merciful Jesus, His Heart radiating grace,
and hear in the depths of his own soul what Blessed Faustina heard: “Fear
nothing. I am with you always” (Diary, 586).
Do you remember that he prayed “that the world maybelieve that you sent me. …. … so that they may be one….Jesus never gives up hope for our unity in Him.
He holds out His hand and asks, will you receive My Mercy?
And we become the recipients of the “new beatitude”:
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Blessed are you! Blessed is your belief.And now we have been given new eyes of faith to guide us.
New ways to bring forth God’s kingdom of Justice, Love, and Peace.
The Good News of the Gospel is at its most fruitful when it is lived out in word and in action.Jesus walked through closed doors with his message of peace, His empowerment through the Holy Spirit.
How can you not believe?
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter tells the authorities:
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we believe—about what we have seen and heard.
And Jesus who died, is risen, He has broken the bonds of death and He offers us the promise of eternal life as sons and daughters of God.
Jesus now also offers his Divine Mercy!
For the sake of His sorrowful passion
Mercy on us and the whole world!
My sisters and brothers, You can Believe it!