2nd Sunday – Incredulous Mercy

Q: What do you get when you cross a fish with an elephant? A: Swimming trunks.

Q: What do you get when you cross a dinosaur with a pig? A: Jurassic Pork.

Q: What do you get when you cross Easter Sunday with a wounded, mistrustful heart? A: Divine Mercy Sunday.

Last week we stood in awe at the most incredible thing that has ever happened on this earth. But the problem with the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ – it’s almost blasphemous to speak of a “problem” – is precisely that: it’s incredible. It’s too incredible. It beggars belief. If last Sunday was the Sunday of the incredible, this Sunday is the Sunday of the incredulous. We should call it Sceptics’ Sunday! With this gospel about Doubting Thomas. Yes, it’s sceptics’ Sunday; maybe you’re a bit of a sceptic. When you’re in church, when you hear the gospel, you’re inwardly saying, “Really? Walked on water – really? Fed five thousand with five loaves – really?”

Listen up. This gospel is for you. But not just for them. Not just for sceptics. That’s only one way of being incredulous. Maybe you don’t self-identify as a sceptic. But listen to this list: -Disillusioned -Cynical -Defensive -Defeatist -Suspicious -Mistrustful -Over-criticalAny of those tags fit? We’re all a bit like some of these, some of the time. And they’re all wounds of trust. It’s maybe the hardest thing in the world, to be able to really trust. Children trust easily; but we’re not children any more, right? We have wounds. Psychological wounds. Wounds in our heart. Those wounds often date back to childhood, to moments of unresolved fear when our parents or other carers seemed unable to provide that safety and love we needed. For those who have suffered abuse, these wounds in the ability to trust can run particularly deep. This woundedness can manifest itself through fragility, but it can also manifest itself through hardness, like scar-tissue hardens after a wound.How can we trust in this wondrous, incredible thing, the Resurrection of Jesus, we who are wounded, incredulous people? And it’s not just about ourselves, how can we trust; in this gospel

Jesus says that he sends us – we are sent to announce this to the world. And there we can really feel the burden of the fact that the Good News seems “too good to be true.” If our Good News wasn’t so good, maybe people would believe it more easily! I mean, look at the apostles. They can’t even convince Thomas, one of their own, that it’s true; how can they announce it to the world? And that’s how we can feel when we think about those people around us, those to whom we are sent.The answer is that there is nothing we can do to trust. The Resurrection is literally incredible: impossible for us to believe. Impossible, that is, without the freely given gift of God. We are wounded, mortally wounded, in our capacity to trust God. The doors of our soul are locked tight out of fear and defensiveness. But Christ walks through those locked doors, and he gives us new life. We are reborn as children, reborn in our capacity to trust God our Father. St John said it in the second reading: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God,” has become a child again through God’s begetting (1 Jn 5:1).We become children again when we believe, because when we believe, what we are saying is “Yes, my Father is there, he has made all things well, he is full of love for me and has taken away the things that threaten me. He is powerful over death, I have nothing to fear.” And it is in this blessed assurance that we can go forth to the world in supreme confidence and announce the Good News. If we say to ourselves, “How could this person possibly believe?” Then we can immediately answer ourselves, “But then how could I believe? Only because God is there.” And that gives us confidence. “I believed, and therefore I spoke” (2 Cor 4:13).But what about our wounds, this places of pain and difficulty to trust? When Christ comes among his disciples, he shows them his wounds. He too was mortally wounded, wounded in his heart. But the risen Christ shows us that there is life beyond our wounds; that there is life with our wounds. That he is giving us a kind of healing that paradoxically leaves the wounds open. That healing is called forgiveness. It’s through his forgiveness that Christ gives us this new life that we are born to at Easter. It’s what the newly baptised received on Easter Sunday.

A last word, to any of you who are living with a particular wound in your ability to trust. Those who are living with a heavy burden of forgiveness. Sometimes in that situation we wish we could just snap our fingers and forgive. We feel we haven’t properly forgiven if we still feel the wound. But that’s not what the risen Christ shows us. For some of the deepest wounds, forgiveness means a daily decision to forgive, a daily prayer to God to grant us the strength to love and to trust. But this is a beautiful image of the faithfulness of God’s mercy, the wounded Lord who continues to love

Br Philip-Thomas CSJ

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