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Posted April 04, 2016 in Lent and Easter, and in Word Made Flesh:
Can’t Get Into the Feast

by Fr. Denis Lemieux.

As I begin writing this monthly column on the Sunday readings, I can foresee that on any given month it might be hard for me to decide which Sunday to pick.

"Well, I could write about the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time … or then again maybe I should write about the 24th. 23rd … 24th … 23rd … oh dear, oh dear, whatever shall I do?"

Well, I don’t really talk to myself like that, but still, I can see that it might not always be clear which one to pick. After all, they’re all good, right? I could write about anything.

This is not the case this month.

Because, of course, this month we are plunged right into the Easter season—Easter having come early this year, at the end of March. And the Sunday immediately following Easter Sunday is now known throughout the Church as "Mercy Sunday."

So in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, it is a no-brainer that I should write on the subject of this Sunday’s Gospel.

And ever since ancient times, the gospel for this day has been that of St. Thomas and his "missing the boat" on Easter Sunday (where was he, anyhow?), his moment of doubt (you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy—"I’m out of the room for, like ten minutes, and you’re telling me Jesus showed up right at that moment. Ri-i i-i ight!") and his subsequent encounter with the Lord and his coming to faith.

Well, it’s all a little bit relevant to the theme of mercy, even if the Church originally picked this Gospel for the simple reason that the main event in it occurs precisely one week after Easter Sunday. All the Divine Mercy stuff came along much, much later.

But still … don’t we all have our moments of doubt? Don’t we all have our moments when we … well, we kind of wonder where Jesus is in all of this.

You know what I mean by "this"? This problem, this mess, this relationship, this situation. Don’t we all have times when we can’t seem to do anything right—when we seem to be "out of the room" at the precise moment when the grace is given, when the miracle happens, when Jesus shows up?

Everyone else seems to get it, and we’re left out in the cold.

We zig into God’s zag. Well, some of us more, some less. Some of us live in that aspect of Easter Sunday all the time; others visit occasionally.

But it’s good, isn’t it, that in the very season of the year when joy is bursting forth, when the endless chanting of "alleluias" and (in the Eastern Church) "Christ is risen" is welling up from every church, every heart and voice—that at this most joyful season of the year, there is this figure—Thomas—who isn’t doing so well.

Who can’t enter the feast, not quite yet. Who is not able to celebrate with the others. Who hasn’t met the risen Lord, not yet, and who is somewhat doubtful as to whether he ever will, or whether there even is such a person. Who needs mercy, in short.

Well, there we are. Even in the light of Easter, we need mercy.

Even when the world is exploding with light and joy, when nature itself, spring itself (if you live somewhere a little further south than Combermere, that is, where this Easter we will most certainly still be in winter’s grip) is telling forth the hope and promise of new life, new growth, beauty and graciousness flowing from the very soil and sun, streams and foliage. We need mercy, nonetheless.

We don’t see Him. We don’t know Him. We aren’t always so sure that we believe in Him. And because of that, we … well, we go looking elsewhere.

We choose other paths. We find our consolation in other things. We worship other gods, gods who are a fair bit closer, a lot more visible, tangible, and who deliver immediate relief for our doubts and fears. In short, we sin.

Some live in this "Thomas Easter Octave" space all the time; most of us are there some of the time. But for all of us, the call is the same.

We need to keep going to that upper room—symbol of the Church in its most nascent beginnings. Keep going to the place of the supper, the place where Jesus was—that one time, that one place, remember when? That one time when He fed us, so unexpectedly, so mysteriously?

Keep … waiting. It may be a fair piece more than eight days; it may, in fact, be closer to eighty years. Or maybe Christ will come when we least expect Him, passing through the locked doors and sturdy walls we are crouching behind.

Maybe all of a sudden He will just be there, and we will believe (we hardly know how or why) and cry out, "My Lord and My God."

The simple fact of the matter is, every time we come into that Room, and every time we sit down to that supper, that simple supper of (as it appears to be) bread and wine, the truth is that we are touching His wounds.

In that meal which is so much more than it appears, so much more than just a meal, we place our hands in His side, feel His Heart throbbing under our grasp. Touch Him, and touching Him, touch mercy.

The bread and wine which are not really bread and wine at all, are the very wounds of Christ borne for us, the permanent mark of His love for the world, left precisely in a place, a time, and a manner where we can touch them, enter them, and (please God, if we are rightly disposed for it) have them enter us.

His very Body and Blood, broken (wounded) so as to be given, for us.

Mercy is given precisely where mercy is needed—where our hearts cry out to see, to know, to be fed, to receive. The place where we don’t know, don’t see, the place where we feel hungry, feel deprived. It is always in the Room, the Room, the Upper Room, over and over again, where the Lord assuages all of that.

Oh, we may still not quite see, we may still not quite know, we may still be pretty much walking in the dark much of the time. Some people really do live their lives as the Thomas in the story.

But faith tells us that, really, it’s OK. We’re going to get there. We will see Him. We will know.

And we will go forth, as Thomas did to India, to proclaim the Risen Jesus to the ends of the earth and carry His Mercy to all our brothers and sisters who also long to see, to know, to receive, to be fed on it.

This is Easter in us—mercy begetting mercy, in the mystery of faith that is the deep mystery of all of our lives.

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

 

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