Homily of Bishop Fintan for Second Sunday of Easter 11th of April, 2021
The light of the Risen Christ of Easter shone bright all this past week and continues to do so today the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Our faith in the Risen Christ allows us to bask in the glorious light of Christ’s tender mercy and compassion for all of us which lies at the heart of our Easter relationship with Christ. In a sense, we need do or say no more but simply “Be” in that light, bask in it and walk in the light.
But today a much loved and often misunderstood bible figure steps into the limelight of Resurrection and that is Thomas. He hardly wanted to be centre-stage and it was only his disappointment at not witnessing the risen presence of Jesus that brought him to the forefront. He expressed his disappointment in a most honest and sincere way that in fact mirrors what anyone of us might have done.
Thomas in Us!
Thomas seems to echo what many of us feel when trapped by fear and uncertainty. We are slow to believe because life conditions us to be suspicious of change, slow to embrace the new and reluctant to leave the safety of our lock-downed hearts which are replicas of the room where we find the disciples in the gospel today – the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear…
Only the tender mercy and compassion of Christ will enable us to open the closed door and enter into the full light of our faith. The famous painting by artist Caravaggio called “The Incredulity of Thomas” is at once brutally graphic and beautifully expressive. It shows Thomas carrying out Jesus’ invitation to actually put his finger into the wounds in Christ’s side.
At first glance one might recoil from the image and cry “too much, too much”. But what gives the painting its essential grace and beauty is the manner in which Jesus looks at Thomas as he carries out the act of putting his finger into the wounds. It is not a look of contemptuous accusation that says “I’ll teach you a lesson.”
No, Caravaggio depicts Jesus looking at Thomas with a gaze that is sublimely full of tender loving mercy and compassion. We need look no further for our own understanding of Divine Mercy Sunday and for a definition of our relationship with the Risen Christ.
It is the compassion of Christ that lies at the heart of the Caravaggio painting of the doubting Thomas. It is that same mercy and compassion that understands our inability to believe at times. It is the key that allows us free up our fears and doubts and in time release ourselves from the locked-rooms of our hearts.
So on this Second Sunday of Easter we have much to celebrate and it is a celebration that comes wrapped up in the mercy and compassion of Christ.
We celebrate the freedom given us by Christ’s words “Peace be with you.”
We celebrate the light of the Easter Candle which lights our way in our darkest hours.
We celebrate the Hope that Christ’s Resurrection brings us – a hope that the pandemic lockdown will end in time and that we will return to a safe and healthy living.
We put our trust in God that all will be well with our troubled world and worried lives. In putting our trust in God, may we echo the words of Thomas’ great proclamation of his new found Faith:
“My Lord and my God.”