Thomas has gotten a pretty bad rap over the centuries, but I for one can empathize with him. I don’t appreciate anyone who I think is trying to “con” me. What I know, I know from my experience, and I trust it. I like to think that I’m open to the vastly different ways of perceiving reality that other people bring, but in truth, it takes quite a bit of inner shaking and shifting for me to admit that what I “know” can be flawed.
Thomas undergoes that same kind of upheaval. What he knows is that the one he loved died a shameful death, and with it, all of Thomas’ hopes for something new are gone. The dream is over for him and for all the disciples. One of them betrayed Jesus; the rest of them abandoned him. Shame, guilt and sadness are their only companions.
In the power of the Easter mystery, Thomas — and we with him — need to hear and then tell a different story, God’s story of freeing, healing and forgiving, God’s eternal dream. The story of the risen Christ and the boundless mercy of God.
The writer Jean Blomquist reminds us that Jesus too knew failure. “He did not change the hearts of all who heard him, nor did he usher in a visible reign of God on earth.” But “the resurrection tosses out all standard expectations and measurements of failure and success….The unexpected turns, the painful endings, the precarious beginnings are all part of the path of faith.”
From the other side of death, Jesus returns to his friends, trapped in their past mistakes. His voice, his touch, are unmistakable. He says to them, “I bring you peace. I forgive you. I send you to tell the Good News. There is another chapter. Touch my wounds, the signs of life after failure. See. There is new life, new possibility. You too can embrace it. You are not alone.”
Will I allow the abundant mercy of God to lift the burdens I carry?
Can I trust that even failure can be a gift, an opening to something new?
Will I let my story be shaped by the experience of others who see and know differently?
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, may we summon the courage to let the wounded hands of the risen Jesus touch our life and its wounds. May we hear him say to us with tenderness and strength, “Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit!”
Sr. Regina Bechtle