During the war, my grandmother would share stories about how they travelled from place to place to flee from the invading Japanese. They would be joined by other neighbors whose descendants also eventually became our childhood friends. My lola told us that life then was difficult especially that they were uncertain what would happen next. Unlike today when news is fast and spreads quickly, people relied on radio and word-of-mouth for stories of events that happened during World War II.
Today’s Sunday Gospel tells us of a similar situation amongst the disciples of Jesus. Imagine, they must have been troubled, distraught of what has happened to them lately. The pains and aches that they are feeling inside is such that it’s so heavy and difficult. They have lost their friend, teacher and mentor. Just a week before, they entered Jerusalem triumphantly; the crowd cheered, and palms were laid on the street making the way for them. And then, fortunes changed as Jesus was crucified, and died on the cross. They have received all sorts of threats and stories; it couldn’t get worse than the fears and anxieties they are going through now.
And yet the disciples came together, perhaps sensing that in moments like these, they have to be together. Just like us — whenever we experience sorrow and pain, being with family and friends become important and everything else is relegated to the background. Thus in our state of brokenness, when with community, we can become closer to the Lord. We have no other one to run to, thus; our only alternative is to strengthen our hope and faith in Him. We can learn much from the first believers, who “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” The community is like an oasis in the desert, it affords us refuge and strength in times of hunger and thirst for the Word.
Today’s Divine Mercy Sunday celebration reminds us that Christ’s suffering is repeated over and over every time we fall. Yet, God’s love and mercy knows no limits. It only takes our humility to accept our own weaknesses and ultimate submission to Christ’s will for our lives. Obedience requires acceptance of the challenges and trials that make us who we are. The story of Thomas clearly articulates our own challenge: we are being reminded by St. Peter in the First Reading that we will suffer through trials so that the authenticity of our faith may bring us salvation ready to be revealed in the final time. (1 Pt. 1: 5) Because of this faith that we are called to, we’ll believe and love Him even without seeing. (v. 8) For us believers, the faith that is handed down to us starting with Peter, John, Thomas and the rest of the disciples, is enough. They are our witnesses that Jesus is truly risen. For this, we are among those who are “blessed” because we believe even without seeing.
“Have you come to believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me? says the Lord; Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!” (Jn. 20:29)