A Word #142| Divine Mercy Sunday| April 23, 2017

“Thomas answered and said to him: My Lord and my God!”

Several Sundays ago I emphasized the importance of giving greater attention and reverence to the reception of the Holy Eucharist. Please excuse my criticism when I say that in general most Catholics have become very sloppy when they present themselves to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Blessed Lord. I don’t believe this sloppiness is entirely intentional nor do I suspect that any one of us intends to be irreverent or sacrilegious in coming forward to receive Jesus. But perhaps the issue is that we have become creatures of habit and we have allowed bad manners to creep into something that ought to be sacred and different from the things we do normally. Perhaps on this Divine Mercy Sunday, we may approach the font of Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Eucharist with the same kind of reverence and faith as Thomas.

The Resurrection narrative of today’s Gospel speaks to something that commonly happens in the lives of many Catholic: doubt. Perhaps all of us at one time in our lives has experienced some form of doubt with our faith. Maybe some of us today feel the clouds of doubt? More often than not, doubt surfaces when something bad happens to us or others such as a death or illness. Thomas himself experienced doubt that resulted from the event of Jesus’ Passion and Death. His Teacher in whom he gave up everything to become one of His disciples was dead in the most heinous way and now three days later his associates are saying that Jesus is alive and they had seen him. The grieving and doubting Thomas refuses to accept their testimony unless he can see for himself and even touch the body of Jesus. Within a week of Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples locked in the Upper Room, Jesus enters again and goes right to Thomas. Immediately his cloud of disbelief and doubt break and Thomas sees and believes. He makes a profession of faith that continues to echo in the Church today at moment of consecration at every Holy Mass: My Lord and my God!

Although we may not have seen the Risen Christ in the flesh, we do see Him sacramentally at the celebration of every Sacrament, especially the Holy Eucharist. When the priest lifts the consecrated Host and the chalice after pronouncing the words of institution it is customary for the priest and the people to proclaim what is truly before our eyes: My Lord and my God! This proclamation of Jesus’ Real Presence and His divinity should be reflected in the way we receive the Risen Christ at Holy Communion. Like Thomas, you and I touch (whether on the tongue or on the hand) the glorified body of Risen Jesus. We similarly touch the body of the Lord Jesus who was crucified, pierced, buried and rose from the dead. Similarly, the Risen Jesus touches us to dispel any cloud of doubt or disbelief!

If we truly believe that which we profess then we are truly blessed as Jesus said to Thomas: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is the Church, the Body of Christ that professes belief that the crucified Jesus who died and was buried, has been raised from the dead and is alive. For us, we are nourished at every Holy Mass to be witnesses to Jesus’ Resurrection. As we approach the Risen Jesus at this Mass and every Holy Mass let us approach Him with the reverence that is due to Him.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

In the Risen Christ,

Fr. John