Every year on Divine Mercy Sunday, we hear the gospel of doubting Thomas. All the other Apostles see Jesus on Easter Sunday. Thomas doubts their testimony, just as the other Apostles had doubted the testimony of the women. Just as Jesus mercifully revealed Himself to the Apostles, He mercifully reveals Himself to Thomas the following Sunday.
We see Jesus’ mercy revealed in many ways throughout the gospels, but it is notable how prominent this theme is in the resurrection appearances. We can think of Jesus’ patience with the disbelief of the Apostles, His tenderness with Mary Magdalene, and of course, His dialogue with Peter, where He gives Peter an opportunity to reverse His three denials. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus seems to appear entirely for the sake of Thomas. In this appearance, Jesus doesn’t do anything besides speak to Thomas and show him His wounds.
It is worth paying attention to the focus on wounds – the wounds that radiate light in the images of Divine Mercy. Jesus shows the Apostles His wounds in His first appearance to them. Then, when Jesus appears again, it is in seeing and being able to touch Christ’s wounds that Thomas believes. This brings to my mind the famous prophecy from Isaiah: “By His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus won salvation for us through His wounds, but we also see Him healing Thomas’s wound of doubt, by revealing His own wounds.
Perhaps one of the reasons Jesus’ wounds remained after His resurrection was precisely to show us His mercy. After Jesus is glorified, He does not become distant from us. He remains the same compassionate Jesus that He was before His resurrection. He does not leave behind His suffering, but bears it on His body as a testament of His mercy. Jesus keeps His wounds to remind us that He has suffered with us and for us. Our woundedness has been cured by His woundedness. Let us look upon His wounds, and with Thomas, let us say, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Let us have faith that, although we cannot put our hands in Jesus’ wounds, Jesus will put His hands in ours, and heal us.
Andrew Sheedy – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta