Divine Mercy Sunday
I think we are missing some opportunities in this church: look at all the blank spaces. We could fill them with advertising: Eat delicious Trappistine Candy – it’s heavenly. Buy Trappist Caskets. Use our easy lay-away plan. In ball parks these days, there is not an inch not covered with promotions for drinks or insurance. We mix news with a sales pitch on infomercials. Since we don’t know what we want or need, there is someone to tell us how to make our lives richer and happier. Needs we didn’t even know we had.
The better formed and educated we are into this mode of response, the more difficult it is to enter another mode of hearing and seeing. Leaders and politicians have to sell themselves. It is a buyer’s market. They are pulling some strings that relate to our “needs.” It is hard not to listen to even the Gospel without the sense that its glowing accounts are meant to persuade us, to lead us to “buy” what it offers. This morning, we have heard the idealistic picture of the church of Jerusalem: all peace, order, harmony, cooperation. They even ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart. Does it get better than that? The disciples were transformed by Christ’s gift of peace into a community of forgiveness. Peter’s correspondents were given an inheritance in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith. Is this exaggerated rhetoric? Glowing salesmanship?
It is hardly what we see. Can it be said that we are enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved? Not quite. We do see a Church immersed in the problems, conflicts, and afflictions of the world. The mission Christ gives to his disciples nullifies the closed and locked doors as guarantees of safety or superiority. They are now in the messy business of bringing liberation through forgiveness of sins. The unity and peace bestowed on the disciples is meant to bring them into solidarity with the suffering of this world. Hard to see it as a source of rejoicing.
Thomas is the voice of that deep-rooted conviction that if I don’t see it, I don’t believe it. The criteria of well-being, justification, and fair compensation. It should be what I expect it to be. Scripture scholars say that Thomas wanted his experience to be verified by a continuity with the pre-paschal Christ. Christ should be accessible in the most grisly of ways (put my fingers into the nail marks and put my hand into his side) to his impetuosity and imperiousness. He wasn’t going to be taken by false advertising. That his brothers had seen the Lord cut no ice with him. He was not with them when Jesus came, and he was still not with them.
The proclamation of the Word is not information for our deliberation and reflection. It is not there for the thinking. It is there for the believing. It is revelation, the disclosure of the presence of God which is engaged in belief, in the obedience of faith. The response itself reveals its grounding in the new life, the birth to a living hope, the inhalation of the breath Christ breathes in us. This is the peace, the unity we discover with God, with one another, and with ourselves. It is the peace and joy of being wholly ourselves: in exultation and in suffering.
Our belief is grounded in the revelation God’s word and proclamation creates in the world as a new creation, being created at this moment. Even though you do not see him, you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. Our knowing is so infused with the knowing and revelation of God that it becomes a con-scientia, a knowing together that withers if we attempt to stand outside and observe it — unless I see. Even though we do not see him, we know him in the love which unites us. We are not being sold anything. The life and love lying within us are being called to life.