By Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III
Bishop of Biloxi
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:19-23).
Divine Mercy Sunday points us to the merciful love of God that lies behind the whole Paschal Mystery — the whole mystery of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus made present for us in the Eucharist.
On Divine Mercy Sunday, we recall special moments when Jesus shared His Divine Mercy after He rose from the dead.
When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and pronounced her name, it was a Divine Mercy moment. (Matthew 28:1-10)
When He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it was a Divine Mercy Moment. (Luke 24:13-35)
When He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and said “Peace be with you,” it was a Divine Mercy moment. When He returned and told Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” It was a Divine Mercy moment. And, when he says to Thomas, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is a Divine Mercy moment for each of us! (John 20:19-31)
We share in these moments of Jesus’ Divine Mercy. If we are open to His Divine Mercy in our lives, it is available to us in so many ways. His mercy is present to us when we pray, it is present to us in the Word of God, it is present to us in the Eucharist, and it is present to us in our family, in our faith communities, in our work, in our studies, and particularly when we partake of His Sacraments.
When Jesus says, “Peace be with you” to the disciples, He offers the peace of heaven, the peace of God’s hope, and the peace of God’s love. Jesus offers His peace and mercy to us amidst all of life’s difficulties, whether it be illness, depression, marital problems, addiction or loss of a job. The list is endless. Whatever it is, Jesus is there for us. We only need to surrender ourselves to Him.
After Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” he breathes the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and shares His Divine Mercy with them and enables them to share His Divine Mercy in many ways, but particularly through the forgiveness of sins. It is by the forgiveness of our sins that God offers us His salvation. That is the spirit of Divine Mercy.
The disciples were locked in the upper room. They were literally sheltering in place out of fear for their lives, yet Jesus appeared to them through locked doors. He comes to each of us, too, out of His great love, as the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus. No matter what is going on in our lives, no matter what we suffer, He is there for us and He understands our pain. He shares with each of us now – if we are open and allow His spirit of Divine Mercy to touch us as He did the disciples.
When Jesus first appeared to the disciples in the upper room, St. Thomas was not present. The disciples were insistent with Thomas. They said, “We have seen the Lord.” They did not mince words.
Thomas did not believe them. He said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25b). This moment of doubt can touch our spiritual lives as well. How often do we find ourselves in this moment?
A week later, Jesus, the Divine Mercy, appeared to Thomas and the other disciples. “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe’” (John 20:27). Jesus says the same to us when we are living in moments of doubt.
As priests, we have many special moments of sharing our Lord’s Divine Mercy when we share the Sacraments. One of those special moments is when we are called to anoint someone who is seriously ill.
I remember a particular woman I visited a few years ago. She was 91 years-old and was in the hospital on a respirator. She was struggling. It was a blessing to be there for her as a priest to give her absolution and the Anointing of the Sick, to pray for her that her spirit, her mind and emotions, and her body to be at peace. It was a powerful experience. It was a Divine Mercy moment, a moment for me and her to touch the wounds of Jesus Christ.
The same thing can happen for each of us. If we have someone in our family who is seriously ill or hurting or if there is something going on in our own hearts, it is a moment to touch the wounds of Jesus and let His Divine Mercy bring healing and peace to us. It is a moment of Thomas. It is a moment in which we are called to say to God, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) as we touch the wounds of our Lord, Jesus Crucified and Risen from the Dead.
Peace be with you!
“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless, and the treasure of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us, and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.”
– Closing Prayer, Divine Mercy Chaplet – St. Faustina’s Diary (950)
For resources on how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Novena, check at your parish, or you can visit www.thedivinemercy.org.