A man had just undergone coronary surgery at Mercy Hospital and was in the recovery room. A Sister of Mercy was at his bedside to reassure him that all went well. “You are going to be fine, Mr. Jones, however we do need to know how you intend to pay for your hospital stay. Do you have insurance coverage?” “No, I don’t,” the groggy man answered.
“Is it possible for you to pay in cash then?” the nun persisted. “No, I’m afraid that’s not possible,” he replied. “Well, do you have any close relatives?” the nun asked. “Only my sister in Texas, but she’s a humble spinster nun,” said the man. “Mr Jones, I must correct you. Nuns are not spinsters for they are married to God,” the nun explained. “Well, in that case, send my bill to my brother-in-law!” he said.
Dear Friends! The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith and our need for God’s forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of Mercy.” In the responsorial psalm we repeat several times, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever” (Ps 118). God revealed His mercy first and foremost by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by his suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments.
The first reading stresses the corporal acts of mercy practiced by the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans started their persecutions. The second reading: After focusing on the spiritual works of mercy such as: convert the sinner, counsel the doubtful and bear wrongs patiently, John reminds us that everyone who claims to love God has to love the others whom God has begotten, especially those who believe that Jesus is the Christ.
In today’s Gospel, we recall Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles on that first Easter evening, we are vividly reminded of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – the power to forgive sins which Our Lord gave to His Apostles — “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20-23). Today’s Gospel also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord of Mercy. To believe without having seen is every later Christian’s experience. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and hesitation by surrendering our lives to the Risen Lord of Mercy.
Three times in today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples with the greeting, “Peace be with you.” It is a way of promising life, healing, and joy. We desire these gifts. Immediately after Jesus greets his disciples, he follows it with an action. He says, “Peace be with you,” and then he shows them his hands and his side. There is not even a breath space between the greeting and the scars. Jesus unites peace with woundedness. He does this to show us that woundedness is not to be hidden but to be shared. When we share our woundedness, it leads to compassion which, in turn, leads to peace.
Now, Jesus is not telling us that we should go around dumping our pain on everyone who we meet. We all know someone who uses their misery as a way of manipulation. But Jesus is telling us is that in relationships of friendship and love, we can sometimes serve the other person not only with strength but also with weakness. When someone we care for is worried, fearful, or in pain, our immediate response is to fix the problem. But in so many circumstances, that ability is not given to us. We cannot always take away that which threatens the one we love.
What we can do—and what Jesus invites us to do—is to display our weakness, to let the person whom we love know that we too have fears, worries, and pain. When we share our weakness, we say to the one we love, “You are not alone. I understand. I will be with you.”
All of us are wounded. All of us have fear, pain, and worry. Today’s Gospel tells us that our woundedness is not to be hidden but to be shared. Our struggles are not to be denied but used to bring healing to others. For when we share our weakness, it leads to compassion, which in turn leads to peace. Risen Lord expressed his love and mercy in his wounded-ness.
Pope Francis, wants his Church of 1.2 billion members to be more merciful and less rigid towards sinners, the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 would be an occasion for all members – and the Church itself – to rediscover the need to be forgiving and generous. “The Church is the home that accepts everyone and refuses no one … the greater the sin, the greater the love that the Church should show towards those who convert,” he said.