Hearts ajar inside the closed upper room
It’s easy to imagine what might have been going through the disciples’ minds in that closed room. We have all been there. Like the disciples we can remember times when we ran away from Jesus, when we betrayed Him, and when like Peter, we denied knowing Him, not three times but many times more!
Yes, it is easy to imagine how miserable they might have felt, how troubled by their actions, how nagged with guilt and remorse, how tormented with grief and sadness. Add to this their disorientation and disillusionment at the death of Jesus in whom they had placed all their hopes, and we can understand why peace eluded them and why fear predominated.
In her memoirs, St Faustina Kowalska, the saint of Divine Mercy writes: “Even if our sins were as black as the night, divine mercy is greater than our misery. Only one thing is needed: the sinner has to leave the door to his heart ajar…God can do the rest…Everything begins and ends with his mercy…”
In that closed room, plagued as they were with the immensity of their sin, the disciples must have left the door to their hearts ajar. Jesus came in and did the rest. “Peace be with you!”
Three times Jesus said this as if to make sure that the truth of these words sank into the depths of their beings. He showed them His wounds not just for them to see that He had truly risen but also to show them that where sin abounded, grace was more abundant. O Happy Fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer!
Thomas, who wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples refused to believe that Jesus had risen. Like us sometimes, he wanted his own personal experience of the risen Lord: Unless I see…unless I can put my finger into the holes…And how did Jesus respond? Infinite Mercy responded with infinite patience.
Pope Francis in reflecting on this passage writes: “Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; He gives him a week’s time. He does not close the door; He waits. Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. ‘My Lord and my God!’ With this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in His open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.”
To believe in the risen Christ is to believe that forgiveness is possible, that no sin is too black to be washed away in the fountain of divine mercy. The disciples experienced this. No wonder they rejoiced when they saw the Lord! They were made new! Their faith was restored! They could begin afresh! Isn’t this also our experience in the sacraments especially the sacraments of initiation?
To believe in the risen Christ means to believe that even though we may still bear the wounds of betrayal and rejection, that true love is still possible. In Jesus we have the victory to forgive the worst of offenses committed against us.
To believe in the risen Christ is to acknowledge our deep poverty and this should lead us to fall on our knees and profess our faith in Jesus as our Lord and God. It is to open ourselves daily to Him who understands our poverty. He breathes His Spirit into us and in the power of His Spirit we are able to forgive as He forgave, to love as He loved, and to be instruments of peace as He was.
When and wherever we see this happening, we know that Jesus Christ is alive and we too can say: “We have seen the Lord!”
Where in your life have you encountered the risen Lord?
What can you do so that others will encounter the risen Christ through you?
In gratitude to God on this feast of the Divine Mercy, we pray with the psalmist: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good for his mercy endures forever! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The Gospel Meditations for April are by Sr Gail Jagroop OP, a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa.