LEADING PEOPLE CLOSER TO CHRIST

Browsing Homilies

Fr. Bill

                              Homily Rerun:  2nd Sunday of Easter, DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
                                   Acts 5:12-16  /  Rev. 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19  /  John 20:19-31
                            
(The italicized part at the end can be used as a meditative prayer.)

 The Wounds of Jesus: 

Seeing Jesus From the Inside Out  (Fr Bill) 

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In today’s Gospel we have the human words by which “God makes His Word present” to us. In today’s Eucharist we have the ongoing Incarnation by which “God makes His Word present” to us. Both are all about Jesus.

Today we heard a resurrection account from the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John (probably completed about 100-120 AD) was written much later then the other three and is more of a spiritual reflection and theological commentary on the meaning of the whole “Jesus event.” The wording, phraseology and overall literary style are much more carefully chosen and must be noted for us to
understand how God is making His Word present to us in today’s Gospel. Let’s take a look.

 

In the Gospel we heard, “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” We note that at this point there is no response from His disciples. Jesus came with His gift of peace but it seems that those present did not receive it. The Gospel
continues, “When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Now the disciples respond with “rejoicing!” Apparently, they did not see Jesus until they saw the wounds of His hands and side! It is the wounds of Jesus that reveal to us Who Jesus is – that let us SEE HIM.

 

I am reminded of the movie, Avatar. In it the blue people say, “I see you” instead of “I love you.” (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the screenwriter is familiar with today’s Gospel.) It’s not that I see your face or your figure, your personality or your prowess, your stature or your success. I no longer see you just from the outside in, but from the inside out. For John the disciples are not seeing just the power and glory of God over us as manifest in the resurrection, but more importantly they are seeing the love of God with us as manifest in the wounds of Jesus. They see Jesus, the Word of God made present to us in the Incarnation, from the inside out.

 

The Gospel of John continues with Jesus again offering peace, breathing on them and saying to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them. And whose sins you retain are retained.” Having seen Jesus from the inside out, seen the love of God manifest in the wounds of the Christ, the hearts of the disciples are now open to hearing the message of Divine Mercy which we celebrate this Sunday.

 

Then Thomas (who missed all this) enters the narrative, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” He knew that people saw ghosts, visions, hallucinations and who knows what else. He would not be taken in so easily.

 

A week later Jesus showed up again and “… said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Jesus said to him, … ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’” (the last beatitude)

 

The meaning of today’s Gospel hinges on the wounds of Jesus. At the center of the hinge is the rod that holds the two sides
together, the wounds of Jesus. On one side of the hinge, Jesus shows us his wounds. (It’s all about Jesus.) On the other side of the hinge we see his wounds. (It’s also all about us.) On the 1st week in today’s Gospel the disciples saw the wounds of Jesus through their eyes. On the 2nd week St Thomas saw the wounds of Jesus through his finger. Today we see the wounds of Jesus through faith.

 

The response from disciples is prayer, i.e. communion with God. The other ten (recall that Judas was no longer with them) responded with a prayer of praise: “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” No words, just the raising of the heart to God in joy.
St Thomas responded with a prayer of words: “My Lord and my God.” We respond with a prayer of faith.

 

We are familiar with using our intellect to pray. This is good, but it is not the only way to pray. I suggest using your imagination to
exceed the limitations of merely thinking your way through prayer. The imagination must be guided by our think to keep it rooted in
Scripture and in the life of the Church but it has a great potential to blossom into much more than the product of unassisted thinking.
Think of today’s Gospel and in your imagination, pray:

-  You are one of Jesus’ chosen disciples, in the room with the other nine, behind locked doors.  

Suddenly you see Jesus right there with you, and you hear His offer of peace.

But you are not moved. (Fill in the reason for this lack of response on your part.) - Jesus shows you the wounds in His hands and side.

For three wonder-filled years of His preaching, and parables, and miracles you saw Jesus from the outside in.

But now, through, with and in His wounds, you see Jesus from the inside out.

Your heart is overwhelmed with rejoicing at the presence of the Love of God, incarnate. 

You are one with the other nine as together you rejoice!

Enjoy this un-worded prayer for as long as it lasts.

A little later Thomas returns and is unpersuaded.

A week later you are Thomas when Jesus shows up again with His offer of peace.

Jesus summons you to place your finger in the wounds of His hands, and your hand into the wound of His side,

     close to His heart.

You approach in fearful joy, or is it joyful fear, and you do as He instructed.

You see Jesus as never before – not with your eyes, but with your finger, and your hand. 

And you pray with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

Let these words, his words now yours, echo in your heart until they fade into stillness.

Enjoy this stillness as long as it lasts .

When the enjoying is complete listen. Perhaps you will hear Jesus say to you: ‘Blessed are you, because you have not                   

     seen –  and yet, you believe!’