In today’s selection from the Acts of the Apostles, we read, “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the Apostles.” Because the Church was at the very beginning of her life, many signs were needed to move people to faith or to strengthen their faith. God knows what is needed to draw a person forward on the journey of faith. Many times he reveals himself through a miraculous cure or an answered prayer. “Signs and wonders” can open our eyes to the truth of the Good News. Once we welcome faith in our hearts, he sends us consolations and greater insights, and the light of faith grows brighter.
At some point, the Lord lets us experience trials, which are also meant for the growth of our faith. We learn that it is not enough to profess faith with words or welcome it in moments of joy; we must also learn to trust God in the dark moments of suffering. The faith journey involves not only roses but thorns. As St. John says in the Book of Revelation, in Jesus we share “the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance.” Because Jesus himself suffered, we have a model to emulate.
The greatest “sign” ever shown was the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. This sign opened Heaven for us by reconciling us to the Father because Jesus paid the price for our sins. This sign gave us the opportunity to become children of God – to share in his divine life and to live with him for all eternity in Heaven after our death. This sign is God’s great mercy and love for us. His mercy always precedes our conversion.
Today’s Gospel takes us once more to Easter Day. Jesus, after his Passion and Death, now reveals himself alive. He comes through the locked doors and stands in the midst of his disciples. In showing them his hands and his side, Jesus reveals that he is the very Person who was crucified. His wounds are no longer limited to being signs of death; they are now signs of life and of mercy. What Jesus has foretold has occurred. Now he asks the disciples to let go of their fear and to welcome the abundant gifts of the Risen Life. Accept, accept, accept – accept the peace of Christ, accept the Holy Spirit, accept the gift of forgiveness and the power to forgive. We learn that to accept the Risen Lord Jesus in faith is to accept all he has come to give us – signs and wonders, rejection and wounds, and the peace that comes from life in the Spirit.
Thomas was also one of the Twelve, but for some reason he was absent when Jesus appeared, and he was not moved to faith by the testimony of his brothers. He declared emphatically that he would have to see Jesus for himself, and even probe the Lord’s wounds as proof that he is really alive. Jesus, responding with great love and mercy to the personal need of Thomas, appears one week later, on the eighth day, just for him. He tells 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’s response of intense and devoted faith has become famous: “My Lord and my God!” Over the centuries, his words have been prayed by countless people who have come to believe in the Lord.
Today, as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, let us recall the words that Jesus spoke to St. Faustina: “My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.” God’s infinite mercy cannot be fathomed by any mind of man or angel! How limitless, vast, and deep! Though we cannot comprehend it all, we can ponder and treasure it. Like Thomas, let us enter Jesus’ wounds to receive the mercy that he so longs to pour out on us. Guided by the word of God, we recall the great mercy he has shown us throughout our lives, and we dedicate ourselves to the great mission of sharing this mercy with those in need.
What are some of the signs and wonders in my life that opened my eyes to the truth of the Good News? How is my faith tested in the dark moments of suffering in my life? In what ways do I resemble Thomas in his lack of faith?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 18, no. 4. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.