John’s Gospel recounts the story of the resurrected Christ appearing to his disciples in a locked room, and then appearing again to Thomas, who had doubted the reports of the resurrection. This passage is particularly relevant to Divine Mercy Sunday, which is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter and emphasizes the boundless mercy of God.
The passage begins with the disciples hiding in fear behind locked doors. This fear is understandable, as they had just witnessed the brutal execution of their leader, and they likely feared that they too would be targeted for their association with him. But Jesus appears to them and says, “Peace be with you,” reassuring them that they need not be afraid. He then shows them his wounds, proving that he has indeed risen from the dead.
This encounter between the disciples and the resurrected Christ is a powerful example of the mercy of God. Despite the fact that the disciples had abandoned Jesus during his trial and crucifixion, he does not hold their weakness against them. Instead, he offers them peace and reassurance, and even goes so far as to show them physical proof of his resurrection. This act of mercy is a reminder that no matter how far we may stray from God or how unworthy we may feel, his love and forgiveness are always available to us.
The passage then goes on to recount the story of Thomas, who was not present for the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples. When he hears that Jesus has appeared to them, he refuses to believe it, stating that he will not believe until he has seen the wounds for himself. A week later, Jesus appears to Thomas and invites him to touch his wounds, saying, “Do not doubt, but believe.” Moved by this experience, Thomas responds with the famous declaration, “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas’ story is often cited as an example of the importance of faith, but it is also a powerful example of the mercy of God. Despite Thomas’ initial doubt and scepticism, Jesus does not turn him away. Instead, he offers him the same peace and reassurance that he had offered to the other disciples, and provides him with the proof he needs to believe in the resurrection. This act of mercy is a reminder that even when we falter in our faith, God is always there to guide us back onto the right path.
In conclusion, John’s Gospel is a powerful reminder of the boundless mercy of God. Through the story of the disciples and Thomas, we see that no matter how weak or doubting we may be, God is always ready and willing to forgive us and guide us back onto the right path. As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, we are called to reflect on this message of love and forgiveness, and to strive to emulate it in our own lives.
Fr Stephen Berecz