The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man’s studio and screamed at him: “This picture does not do me justice!” The photographer replied, “Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!”
The Second Sunday of Easter is dedicated to celebrating Christ as the King of Divine Mercy. We all need God’s mercy, not His justice, to be saved! There two realities that we must acknowledge – the dynamics of human frailty due to sin and the dynamics of God’s intervention because of His mercy for us. In the dynamics of human frailty, we go through the cycle of being lost, fearful and in doubt. But the dynamics of God’s intervention, His mercy offers us the cycle of forgiveness, shalom, and direction. As we celebrate Divine Mercy, the spirit of Easter gives us an insightful experience of hope and joy that was ultimately accomplished by Jesus’s act of mercy on Good Friday!
Let us examine this amazing insight of God’s mercy in today’s readings:
The second reading, 1 Peter 1:3-9, calls us to “rejoice,” because in Christ’s “great mercy gave us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5) With COVID-19, this message hopefully makes us stronger and forever faithful to God in the face of unprecedented trials and challenges in this life, ultimately investing on hope in the life to come.
If we have any doubts, the gospel reminds us how our merciful Savior dealt with the “to-see-is-to-believe” approach of Thomas by re-appearing back when Thomas was present. It’s an amazing gesture of reaching out to Thomas’s unbelieving disposition. “Peace be with you.” (John 20:21) 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.” (John 20:27) In many ways, we are like Thomas by living a life with a “to-see-is-to-believe” approach. We wonder how many times Jesus has been reaching out to us when we employed “to-see-is-to-believe” approach in life. Hopefully, with God’s constant merciful promptings, we become convicted to Christ by recognizing Him in our pains and sufferings and respond the way Thomas answered: “My Lord and my God!”
In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the early Christian believers lived their conviction to Christ’s resurrection by living the path of radical discipleship. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” This communal life is characterized by “putting all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” (Acts 2:44-45) As I have said, it was a radical way to follow the path of the risen Christ; and as Acts described what they were doing, “They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47) They rejoice, happily living the spirit of Easter!
We are God’s People, an Easter Church! Amid human limitations and sinfulness, we find our greatest joy in God’s mercy. In Christ’s resurrection, we are blessed with the key to directing our Christian life.
Let me conclude by sharing with you a story that was told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers' tickets, Einstein couldn't find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; "Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I'm sure you bought a ticket."
As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. You don't need a ticket, I'm sure you bought one." Einstein arose and said, "Young man, I too know who I am; what I don't know is where I am going." (Steven Molin, Elated....Deflated)
Easter is special because it points our life to something eternal where we should be going. Christ’s victory over sin and death has been promised to us. Eternal life is promised to us because of God’s mercy. With Christ’s resurrection, nothing can separate us from the love of God! We know where we are going because His mercy is our salvation.