Eight days after the Solemnity of Easter, in which we celebrated the central event of our faith, the Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus, the Church helps her children, reborn from the waters of Baptism, to gain renewed awareness of the work of grace that has been accomplished in their lives.
What we yet again and repeatedly experience is the Lord’s fidelity: “His love is forever! His mercy endures forever!” O what a comfort, my dear people!
We, by now, are so accustomed to living in the provisional and the virtual, so intoxicated by superficial novelties that chase each other and make everything inexorably old; we no longer savour the taste of the definitive, of stability, of the “forever”.
And, even when it is pronounced, driven by enthusiasm or passion, it is often believed that saying “forever” is an emphatic expression, which would in any case contain in itself a sort of rescission clause: “forever, ... until that lasts”.
Perhaps because we are aware of our fragility or perhaps, more honestly, because we prefer to “keep our hands free” to change as events, conditions and emotions change, we think it is impossible to make definitive commitments and give a stable shape to our life.
The Lord, on the other hand, since He is faithful to Himself, to His love and to the Truth, does not break His promises and His covenant.
His Death and His Resurrection are the indelible seal of His fidelity: He does not go back on His word; He does not repent of what He has done. Indeed, He wishes to involve and share the gift of grace with every person, obtained with His sacrifice and with His own most Precious Blood.
Saint Thomas, with his stubborn request to see and touch the wounds of the body of the Risen One, leads us to experience that the supreme gift of Jesus’ life has taken on the dimensions of eternity: the risen Jesus did not want to deprive Himself of His wounds, those five Precious wounds from which we have been healed.
Yes, indeed, it is for all eternity that from those wounds flows the blood that purifies us from sin and nourishes us with divine life; and, through those wounds, we have access to the mystery of God.
The evangelist wanted to tell us about the inner battle of the Apostle Thomas: the struggle between his desire to believe in the joyful announcement of his friends, who had seen the Risen One, and his inner difficulty in believing in the surprising novelty of the Resurrection of a crucified Messiah.
We are grateful to Thomas for having fought for us and before us, the same effort that every one of us faces before the glory of the Resurrection event, and for this we are indebted to Saint John for having told us about those events, moved by a precise intention “...so that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, by believing, you may have life in his name”.
To us too, “blessed for having believed without having seen”, today, Jesus asks, like on that blessed evening to Thomas, in the Upper Room: “no longer be an unbeliever, but a believer”.
How is it possible that our instability is transformed into stability and our tendency to the transitional and temporary aspects of this life into definitiveness?
What can protect us from being “like children at the mercy of the waves, carried hither and thither by every wind of doctrine, deceived by men with that cunning that leads to error?” (cf. Eph. 4:14).
Above all, we must cultivate a lively and grateful memory of the Lord’s fidelity and of the work He has truly and surely accomplished in us. Then let us live in that grace that has flowed, and which flows perennially, from His five most Precious Wounds, obeying His command: “Do this in memory of me”.
His disciples did exactly this; so did the first Christians and so do all those who, over the centuries, have decided to live the Christian life to the full:
“Those who had been baptized persevered in the teaching of the apostles and in communion, in the breaking of bread and in prayer”.
Upon this Sunday, of all Sundays may that prayer ring with the words Pope Francis reminds us of continually: Let us give thanks to the Lord, for His Mercy endures forever! Alleluia!
* Custody of the Holy Land
By Fr Luke Gregory, ofm*