A question was asked, “Which child is more privileged, Child A, whose father is working in the same city and is staying with the family, or Child B, whose father is working abroad?”
What would your answer be, A or B?
The answer: It depends. If Child A has a father who is physically present, but is mentally absent in the family, while Child B’s father, though physically absent, but is talking to the Family often and regularly, is caring, is expressive, then Child B is more privileged. It doesn’t need for one to be physically present in order to manifest his presence in the life of others. This is also Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel.
This Sunday, also called the Divine Mercy Sunday, is best remembered for the story of Thomas, who said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (Jn. 20: 25b) A week later, the disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came 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.”
Jesus’ rebuke of Thomas was gentle. Would you imagine if Jesus responded angrily or sarcastically? Instead, the Lord’s loving and caring words made Thomas felt the real presence of Jesus in the way the situation was handled: merciful and compassionate. The face of love and mercy that only Jesus’ real presence could reveal. The love that Thomas for all his impulsiveness and seeming doubt doesn’t deserve. The same love that we also don’t deserve. But it is this love that only Jesus — who is loving, merciful and compassionate — can give. The Lord says that we don’t need His physical presence to experience His love and mercy,
“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Thomas response, “My Lord and my God!” was a strong declaration of faith and is not only about doubt but also means that as followers of Jesus, we must not separate the Resurrection from the Cross. His story also teaches that we cannot live the life of grace, the “risen life”, authentically unless we bear in our bodies the wounds of the cross.
Thomas was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. His inquiring attitude led to the many responses of Jesus who show best who the Savior is. Thomas passion to serve was such that he was sent to evangelize to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to a large native population whose pride in proclaiming themselves as having the Faith “with a direct connection to the Savior” is well-known. In my past assignment in Nepal, I’ve met a missionary priest who came from Kerala, along the Malabar Coast in South India, who told me the same thing. I saw in him the pride and gratitude of obtaining the Faith through the missionary efforts of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Earlier in the Gospel, we see Jesus telling them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This is a command, not only for the disciples, but also for us to be witnesses to the Word. We are called to be the love, the mercy and the compassion of God to others.
As a form of gratitude to the Lord for his mercy and compassion, may we take to heart his command to be witnesses to Christ and to the Faith. Like what St. Thomas has taught us, may we realize that we cannot expect to rise with Christ, unless we also share in the wounds of the Cross.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.” (Ps. 118: 1)