Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Prayer to the Divine Mercy from the Diary of St. Sister Faustina
You expired, O Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.
Amen. (Diary 187)
God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have ben washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 952 “They had everything in common.”1 “Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy. .. and of their neighbors in want.”2 A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods.3
CCC 995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a “witness to his Resurrection,” to “[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead.”4 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.
CCC 2790 Grammatically, “our” qualifies a reality common to more than one person. There is only one God, and he is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in his only Son, are reborn of him by water and the Spirit.5 The Church is this new communion of God and men. United with the only Son, who has become “the firstborn among many brethren,” she is in communion with one and the same Father in one and the same Holy Spirit.6 In praying “our” Father, each of the baptized is praying in this communion: “The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”7
1 Acts 4:32.
2 Roman Catechism 1, 10, 27.
3 Cf. Lk 16:1, 3.
4 Acts 1:22; 10:41; cf. 4:33.
5 Cf. 1 Jn 5:1; Jn 3:5.
6 Rom 8:29; Cf. Eph 4:4-6.
7 Acts 4:32.
In this brief glimpse of the life of the first Christian community in Jerusalem, St. Luke (the author of Acts) emphasizes the ideal of Christian brotherhood, which animated the first Christians so much that many of them gave their possessions gladly for distribution among those of their brothers who were short of the necessities of life. As is clear from the incident of Ananias and Sapphira nobody was compelled to sell his possessions or to give all he possessed to the community (see 5: 4), but those who did so were setting a lofty and praiseworthy ideal for all time.
While the vow of poverty, taken by religious, is an imitation of this early Christian ideal – the religious gives all that he or she has or may have to the community – such an act of abdication is of necessity restricted to relatively very few. The vast majority of men and women need personal possessions to support themselves and their dependents. The life of religious is governed by two other vows, obedience and chastity, which make the observance of poverty not only feasible but desirable. The life of a religious is regulated by obedience: he can be moved not only from one occupation to another but from one place to another, even from one country to another. Personal property would be a serious impediment here. The vow of chastity means that the religious will have no spouse and/or family to provide for, and so the chief need for personal possessions is removed.
But, granted that our Christian religion does not demand of all of us that we should follow the example of the first Christian community in Jerusalem, we still have an important lesson to learn from today’s reading. While we can, and the vast majority of us must, retain our personal possessions, we must still be always ready to share them with those in need. We are not the real owners of what we possess; we are only the administrators of the property God has given us. He is the real owner, and he expects us to use what he has given us justly and charitably.
We use our possessions first and foremost to provide for our own needs and the needs of those depending on us. That charity and justice begin at home is true in this sense, but they do not end at home. While we provide for the needs of the home let us not exaggerate these needs; let us not indulge in luxuries for ourselves and our family, while there are neighbors on the brink of starvation. We need, today especially, a revival of that wonderful spirit of fraternal feeling which led many of the first Christians to sell all they possessed and distribute the proceeds to the needy. However, instead of selling our possessions, we need to use them well and wisely, so that we can give a helping hand not only to our fellow-Christians but to men and women of every nation and creed who are in need of help.
Four-fifths of the world’s population today are living in poverty, and some on the starvation line, through no fault of their own. One-fifth are living a life of comfort and sufficiency, many of them actually in luxury. While we may not be and most likely are not, among the latter, there are things we too could and should do without if we allow Christian charity to govern our lives.
Have a good look at your home, your way of dressing, your meals, your recreations and entertainments and you may find many occasions for saving a dollar to give to relief organizations. When you put on your heavy winter overcoat think of the poor, naked children in Africa and elsewhere who have not even a little shirt to keep out the cold. When you sit down to your four-course dinner think of the unfortunates who would be glad of one bowl of rice a day. When tempted to spend a night drinking with your friends stop and think of the thousands of children dying for want of a bottle of milk. The Christian community in Jerusalem earned the respect of all for their charitable behavior. All you can do for your needy neighbor may not earn you any headlines in the daily papers, but if you do what you can you will be printing your name where alone it matters. You will be inscribing yourself in the Book of Life which is kept in heaven.
Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
1 Jn 5:1-6
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”1 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified2 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.3
CCC 1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a “Baptism” with which he had to be baptized.4 The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.5 From then on, it is possible “to be born of water and the Spirit”6 in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him you are saved.7
CCC 1847 “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.”8 To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”9
CCC 2780 We can invoke God as “Father” because he is revealed to us by his Son become man and because his Spirit makes him known to us. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God.10
CCC 2790 Grammatically, “our” qualifies a reality common to more than one person. There is only one God, and he is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in his only Son, are reborn of him by water and the Spirit.11 The Church is this new communion of God and men. United with the only Son, who has become “the firstborn among many brethren,” she is in communion with one and the same Father in one and the same Holy Spirit.12 In praying “our” Father, each of the baptized is praying in this communion: “The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”13
1 1 Cor 12:13.
2 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.
3 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.
4 Mk 10:38; cf. Lk 12:50.
5 Cf. Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:6-8.
6 Cf. Jn 3:5.
7 St. Ambrose, De sacr. 2, 2, 6: PL 16, 444; cf. Jn 3:5.
8 St. Augustine, Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923.
9 1 Jn 8-9.
10 Cf. Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 5:1.
11 Cf. 1 Jn 5:1; Jn 3:5.
12 Rom 8:29; Cf. Eph 4:4-6.
13 Acts 4:32.
“This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” In one short sentence, St. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, expresses the profoundest philosophy ever put before thinking man. We have had many philosophers and many searchers after the meaning and purpose of rational life on earth. We have had many attempts at explanations, but all have failed, for none of them satisfied the innate desires and total capacity of human nature. Of all the beings on our planet, man alone has the faculties for perceiving the truth and for enjoying the beautiful. While he shares with the animal kingdom the impulse to self-preservation and the perpetuation of the species, he has within him powers that surpass all animal instincts and raise him above the material world where he lives and moves. He can perceive beauty, truth, love, joy and happiness. With his will, which is motivated by the good, he can and does desire to possess these supra-mundane “goods,” not only for a few short years but forever.
How can man do this? How can he fulfill that desire for perpetual happiness, that longing for unending love, that craving for eternal beauty and joy especially if his life is to end forever in the grave and if the same dreary fate is to await him as awaits the dumb animals? This is where the goodness and infinite generosity of God steps in. It was he who gave us these spiritual faculties. Of their very nature they seek for spiritual fulfillment, and therefore he has planned for us an existence after our earthly death, in which all our rational desires will be fulfilled.
This is the message of the Christian faith. St. John says that it conquers and puts in its proper place, in relation to man, our world and all its false attractions. This is the good news which Christ came on earth to establish and announce to men. God has planned a future life of perfect happiness for all who will accept it. Through sending his divine Son in our human nature, he has elevated our nature and given us a new status, the status of adopted sons. It gives us a right to the eternal kingdom of the Father. Our mortal life, if left to itself, would end naturally in the grave. But through the incarnation it is transformed into a new and everlasting life. As the preface of the Mass for the dead says : “life is not taken away (from us) rather it is changed.” Death for the adopted son of God is not the end but the beginning of the true, beautiful and happy, unending life.
This is surely a story of victory and the true philosophy of life. Our Christian faith alone gives the answer to all the problems which have disturbed men down through the ages. We, therefore, have the truth. We know the real facts of life and death. We have God’s revelation through Christ, but we must put our knowledge into daily practice. It is not enough to be a Christian, nor enough to know where we are going, “it is not those who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter into the kingdom of heaven but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt. 7: 2 1). We must live as Christians, and travel the road marked out for us by Christ. We must do the will of God every day of our lives.
We must love God, then, and love our neighbor who is a fellow-child of God like ourselves. We must keep God’s commandments. When we truly realize what reward awaits us, the keeping of the commandments will not be a burden but, as St. John says, a pleasure and a privilege. Our Christian faith is surely the victory which overcomes the world.
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
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.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
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.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”1
“For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”2
CCC 442 Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”3 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. ..”4 “And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”5 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.6
CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.7 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.8 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”9
CCC 514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.10 What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”11
CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,12 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,13 than for the ordinary People of God.14 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;15 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.16 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,17 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),18 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.19
CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.20 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”21) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.22 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”23
CCC 644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.”24 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.”25 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.
CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.26 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.27 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.28
CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”29 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.30 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.31 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.32 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.33
CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:34 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands35 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”36 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.37 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”38
CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.39 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”40
CCC 858 Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;. .. And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.”41 From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”42 The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.”43
CCC 976 The Apostle’s Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”44
CCC 1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying:45 they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This “apostolic succession” structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.
CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.46 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.47 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.
CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.48 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,49 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.50 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.51 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.52
CCC 1441 Only God forgives sins.53 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.”54 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.55
CCC 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,56 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”57
CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.58 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”59 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.60
1 DV 11.
2 DV 11; cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:19-21; 3:15-16.
3 Mt 16:16-17.
4 Gal 1:15-16.
5 Acts 9:20.
6 Cf. I Th 1:10; Jn 20:31; Mt 16:18.
7 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.
8 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
9 Jn 20:28,21:7.
10 Cf. Jn 20:30.
11 Jn 20:31.
12 Lk 2:34.
13 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.
14 Jn 7:48-49.
15 Cf Lk 13:31.
16 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.
17 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.
18 Cf. Mt 6:18.
19 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.
20 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.
21 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.
22 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.
23 Mk 16:14.
24 Lk 24:38-41.
25 Cf Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17.
26 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.
27 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.
28 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.
29 Mk 16:19.
30 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.
31 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.
32 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.
33 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.
34 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.
35 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.
36 Rom 6:4.
37 Cf. Jn 20:22.
38 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.
39 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.
40 LG 7.
41 Mk 3:13-14.
42 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.
43 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.
44 Jn 20:22-23.
45 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.
46 Cf. LG 10 # 2.
47 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.
48 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.
49 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.
50 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.
51 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.
52 Cf. Acts 2:38.
53 Cf. Mk 2:7.
54 Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48.
55 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.
56 Cf. In 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18.
57 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.
58 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.
59 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.
60 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.
It may surprise and amaze us that the Apostles were so reluctant to believe that Christ had risen from the dead, to live forever in glory with his Father in heaven. But we must remember that during their two or three years with him they saw nothing in him but a mere man, one with divine powers, but yet a man; certain prophets of the old covenant had some such powers also. Christ had “emptied himself” of his divine nature, and he had foretold his resurrection many times. But that he could be really God, as well as man, was something they could not then grasp, and if he was a mere man death had to be the end.
Their slowness of faith had its value for the future Church and for all of us. If they had been expecting the resurrection, and anxiously looking forward to it, people could say that they imagined it, that they persuaded themselves it had happened. Indeed, there have been men proud of their acuteness of judgement, who have said that the story of the resurrection is a story of mass hallucination, although all the evidence proves the opposite. Their conviction that it could not happen, could not be removed from their minds except by impressive evidence that it had. Hallucination is born in a mind already expecting and hoping for the imagined fact.
We can thank the Apostles and especially Thomas, the last to give in, that our faith in the resurrection and divine glorification of Christ is that much the stronger. Our Christianity which would have ended before the first Easter week had passed, if Christ had not risen in glory, spread rapidly to the then known world and is still spreading, because its author was none other than Christ “our Lord and our God.” How prophetic were the words of Gamaliel at the meeting of the Sanhedrin which tried to prevent the Apostles from preaching the new Christian faith: “If this plan or work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it” (Acts 5: 38-39).
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.
On this occasion we encounter two mysteries: the mystery of human suffering and the mystery of Divine Mercy. At first sight these two mysteries seem to be opposed to one another. But when we study them more deeply in the light of faith, we find that they are placed in reciprocal harmony through the mystery of the Cross of Christ. As Pope John Paul II said in this place: “The Cross is the most profound bowing down of the Divinity towards man … the Cross is like a touch of eternal love on the most painful wounds of humanity’s earthly existence” (August 17, 2002). Dear friends who are sick, who are marked by suffering in body or soul, you are most closely united to the Cross of Christ, and at the same time, you are the most eloquent witnesses of God’s mercy. Through you and through your suffering, he bows down toward humanity with love. You who say in silence: “Jesus, I trust in you” teach us that there is no faith more profound, no hope more alive and no love more ardent than the faith, hope and love of a person who in the midst of suffering places himself securely in God’s hands.
— Address to the Sick at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki on May 27, 2006.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
A Prayer of St. Sister Faustina
“O Lord. I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.
May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me” (Diary 163).