Divine Mercy Sunday


By John Dalla Costa

Even on bended-knee before the cross on Good Friday, and in the glee of Resurrection bells ringing during the Easter Vigil, our devotions only palely approach the actual trauma of those who loved Jesus and followed him. Their loss was monstrous, unleashing grief and guilt that destabilized each person to their core, even before the incomprehensible empty-tomb destabilized every certitude about life, death, faith, cosmos, love and God. In today’s gospel we encounter that trauma head-on. Doors are locked, as are disappointed hearts. Fear and doubts prevail, as those closest to Jesus cower in confusion.

All these barriers in wood and stone, or in comprehension and attitude, could not keep Jesus at bay. The One who was tortured and left to die in ignominy came back to his friends after death as he had in life, with gifts of peace and forgiveness. And the fact that convinced his friends to have faith in the life they were seeing was to touch the very wounds that had caused Jesus’ agonizing death. To me this is a significant detail. The real and Resurrected body of Jesus Christ bore the marks of violence and execution on his hands, feet and side. Rather than being left behind, the cross is present in the Lord returned from death. The instrument of annihilating scandal and abandonment is now literally incorporated into the living body that is the animating core of our faith and Eucharistic life. Many of our saints and mystics developed their spirituality by contemplating the wounds of the Risen Christ for this very reason.

Love does not end suffering, nor replace the cross each of us must carry. Rather, it incorporates that sacrifice into an offering that transforms the one giving love as much as the one receiving it. In the marks left by nails and spear we discover God’s embrace of our own suffering and vulnerability, and God’s abiding presence in the suffering and vulnerability of our sisters and brothers.

Sunday’s Readings:

Acts 2.42-47

1 Peter 1.3-9

John 20.19-31