Livonia, Michigan

Second Sunday of Easter

By the Faithful Disciple

We tend to beat up St. Thomas for his doubt, when what is really most amazing in the scene from today’s Gospel is his understanding, and the first public pronouncement of, Jesus Christ’s divinity. He gets it. And he proclaims it without hesitation: “My Lord and my God.” I think about what Thomas’ face might have looked like at that moment, and I imagine a countenance of conviction alongside humility – joyful tears in the eyes that reflect awe and wonder. The truth behind his realization and understanding is that God is faithful, God is loving, God is merciful. Of course, knowing that with our heart and mind needs to be translated into doing with our every action. The early Christian communities seemed to have lived this well, happily sharing their possessions and selling what they didn’t need. Not because they had been forced to, but because the “commandments [were] not burdensome” for those who loved God. God loved us first, and by his grace, and his mercy, we are commanded and empowered to love one another.

God is merciful – Divine Mercy. And that is what we celebrate today, in addition to the second Sunday of Easter. The first Divine Mercy Sunday observance occurred in the year 2000, when St. John Paul II canonized Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. The Polish sister received private revelations from the Lord about his great mercy in the 1930s, and she outlined these in a diary she kept at the instruction of her confessors. A passage from her diary says: “The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive.” (1578) The apostles in today’s passage told Thomas that they had seen the Lord – the resurrected Lord. They trusted that Jesus’ messages to them were true and that they indeed need not fear. The message of Divine Mercy should likewise comfort us and also provide a model for our actions. In the same way the apostles helped Thomas to trust and come to deep knowledge and understanding, let us strive to be “of one heart and mind” with our fellow disciples and love them as we have been loved by God.

The words of St. Faustina’s diary have been used to create the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This prayer is said using a rosary, but with some differences in the prayers. Once you know the words, the chaplet is a simple prayer to recite, and it is traditionally said at 3 p.m. in remembrance of Jesus’ merciful act of dying on the cross for us. If you have never recited the chaplet, try praying it this week.