“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will
fill me with joy in your presence.”
In becoming man, Jesus gave us an image of God that we
can perceive: God’s face, once too awesome to behold, is now made visible: eyes
that are merciful, a wounded hand raised in blessing, a heart pierced for our
sins, and a countenance that fills us with joy. But sometimes still, we have a
hard time seeing Him; we question, we doubt, and we give in to fear and
Jesus knows our hearts and understands our human
failings. He reassures us not to fear, but trust in Him. In today’s Gospel,
Jesus joins two of His disciples as they walk home from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
They are confused, unsure of the meaning of all the mysterious events
surrounding Jesus’ death and the reports of His Resurrection. They don’t know
what to make of all that has happened.
Jesus’ identity is not immediately revealed to them as He
explains the meaning of the scriptures and the events they have witnessed. They
find comfort in His presence and urge Him to stay with them when they arrive in
Emmaus. Finally, at table, their eyes are opened to recognize Jesus in the
breaking of the bread. Rejoicing, they immediately return to Jerusalem
proclaiming, “The Lord has truly been raised!
Today, we might envy the disciples the experience of
walking with Jesus and talking with Him. But even now, Jesus walks with His
disciples on the journey. Even now, our hearts burn within us as we listen
intently to His word. Even now, our eyes are opened to gaze upon the Risen Lord
at the table of the Eucharist.
If you ever feel afraid or alone, if your faith ever
falters, take a few minutes to open the Bible, read the Word of God, and listen
for His voice. Come to Mass or Adoration, and look for Jesus there, where He
reveals Himself in the breaking of the bread. Spend time in His presence, and
He will fill your heart with joy.
“In today's Gospel… the Lord breathes upon
his disciples. He grants them his Spirit — the Holy Spirit: "If you forgive
the sins of any, they are forgiven...". The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the power of
forgiveness. He is the power of Divine Mercy. He makes it possible to start all
over again — ever anew. The friendship of Jesus Christ is the friendship of the
One who makes us people who forgive, the One who also forgives us, raises us
ceaselessly from our weakness and in this very way educates us, instils in us
an awareness of the inner duty of love, of the duty to respond with our
faithfulness to his trust. In the Gospel passage for today we also heard
the story of the Apostle Thomas' encounter with the Risen Lord: the Apostle is
permitted to touch his wounds and thereby recognizes him — over and above the
human identity of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas recognizes him in his true and
deepest identity: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28). The Lord took his wounds with him to
eternity. He is a wounded God; he let himself be injured through his love for
us. His wounds are a sign for us that he understands and allows himself to be
wounded out of love for us. These wounds of his: how tangible they are to
us in the history of our time! Indeed, time and again he allows himself to be
wounded for our sake. What certainty of his mercy, what consolation do his
wounds mean for us! And what security they give us regarding his identity:
"My Lord and my God!". And what a duty they are for us, the duty to
allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for him!”
homily of Pope Benedict XVI, Easter Sunday, April 15, 2007
"... Jesus came and stood among them, and
said, “Peace be with you!” and he showed them his hands and his side… he showed
them his wounds. And in this way they realized that it was not an
apparition: it was truly him, the Lord, and they were filled with joy.
On the eighth
day Jesus came once again… and showed his wounds to Thomas, so that he could
touch them… in order to believe and thus become himself a witness to the
To us also, on
this Sunday which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, the
Lord shows us, through the Gospel, his wounds. They are wounds of mercy.
It is true: the wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy.
us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief.
Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds… the mystery
of his merciful love.
wounds, as in a light-filled opening, we can see the entire mystery of Christ
and of God… the whole history of salvation… All of this we can see in the
wounds of Jesus, crucified and risen…
Faced with the
tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at times, asking ourselves,
“Why?”. Humanity’s evil can appear in the world like an abyss, a great
void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life… how can we fill this
abyss? For us it is impossible; only God can fill this emptiness that
evil brings to our hearts and to human history. It is Jesus, God made
man, who died on the Cross and who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of his
gaze on the wounds of the Risen Jesus, we can sing with the Church: “His love
endures forever” (Ps 117:2); eternal is his mercy. And with these
words… let us go forth along the paths of history, led by the hand of our Lord
and Saviour, our life and our hope.
This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen? And does it
really matter? Paul believes our faith itself hinges on the Resurrection,
saying, “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in
your sin.” (1 Cor 15:17). But why should it matter what the details are, as
long as we all love God?
Recently, a movie called “The Shack” was released. Many
people, Catholics among them, were touched by the message of God’s mercy,
central to the movie’s theme. The story focused strongly on forgiveness without
speaking much of repentance, and presented an innovative version of God,
without regard to the “limitations” of scripture or religion.
But what we believe about God the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit is not negotiable. Christian beliefs about God are fully revealed in
scripture and Church teachings. Our faith is based on a real person and actual
events, and on the authority of the Church. Scripture tells us this: "For
God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that everyone who
believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life." Jesus is
God, but Jesus also came to us as a man. This was necessary because the Father,
who is pure spirit, could not die, so He sent Jesus, God Incarnate, to die for
us. Was Jesus really God? He made such shocking claims about Himself and God
the Father that He was condemned to death for blasphemy. He is God, the Son.
But if God the Father (or mother, according to The Shack, which presents God as
a woman called Papa) was crucified, then why was it necessary for Jesus to
become man at all? If our understanding of God is that far off, then maybe the
Resurrection is merely a human construction as well.
Jesus did not want us to doubt, but to believe. Jesus
permitted Thomas to touch His wounds, still gaping open in His resurrected
body, to give us scriptural evidence. He left other evidence of His
Resurrection also, some of which can still be viewed and investigated. One such
miraculous piece of evidence is the Shroud of Turin. Modern scientific
investigations continue to point to the authenticity of this amazing shroud.
Another movie was just released called “The Case for
Christ.” It is the true story of an agnostic reporter who becomes a Christian
after investigating the evidence for Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection,
including the Shroud. This mainstream Protestant movie may be the first to make
the Shroud’s story known to Christians outside the Catholic world. May God's
gift of the Shroud and the testimony of this once-doubting reporter bring many
other "doubters" to fall to their knees, declaring as Thomas did,
"My Lord and My God!"
Christ indeed from
death is risen, our new life obtaining.
In his book “Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week,” Pope Benedict
shares his insights into the meaning of Jesus’ anguished cry from the cross,
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – heard twice in today’s readings
(Ps 22:2, Mt 27:46).
“It is no ordinary cry of abandonment. Jesus is praying the
great psalm of suffering Israel, and so he is taking upon himself all the
tribulation… of all those in this world who suffer from God’s concealment. He
brings the world’s anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God
himself. He identifies himself … with all who suffer under God’s “darkness;” he
takes their cry, their anguish, and all their helplessness upon himself – and
in doing so, he transforms it.
… Psalm 22 pervades the whole Passion story and points beyond
it. The public humiliation, the mockery… the pain, the terrible thirst, the
piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet, the casting lots for his garments – the whole
Passion is… anticipated in the psalm. Yet when Jesus utters the opening words
of the psalm, the whole of this great prayer is essentially already present –
including the certainty of an answer to prayer, to be revealed in the
Resurrection… The extreme cry of anguish is at the same time the certainty of
an answer from God, the certainty of salvation – not only for Jesus himself,
but for “many.”
Christ prays as both head and as body… And as he prays as
“body,” …all of our struggles, our voices, our anguish, and our hope are
present in his praying. We ourselves are the ones praying this psalm, but now
in a new way, in fellowship with Christ. And in Him, past, present, and future
are always united.
…This perspective takes nothing away from the horror of
Jesus’ Passion. On the contrary, it increases it, because now it is not merely
individual, but truly bears within itself the anguish of us all. Yet at the
same time, Jesus’ suffering is a Messianic Passion. It is suffering in
fellowship with us and for us, in a solidarity – born of love – that already
includes redemption, the victory of love.”
Léon Bonnat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” ~ Psalm 130
Gospel — the raising of Lazarus — we listen to the voice of faith from the lips
of Martha, Lazarus’ sister. Jesus said to her: “Your brother will rise again,”
and she replies: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the
last day” (Jn 11:23-24). But Jesus repeats: “I am the resurrection and the
life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25-26).
This is the true newness which abounds and exceeds every border! Christ pulls
down the wall of death and in him dwells all the fullness of God, who is life,
eternal life. Therefore death did not have power over him and the raising of
Lazarus is a sign of his full dominion over physical death which, before God,
resembles sleep (cf. Jn 11:11).”
is another death, which cost Christ the hardest struggle, even the price of the
Cross: it is spiritual death and sin which threaten to ruin the existence of
every human being. To overcome this death, Christ died and his Resurrection is
not a return to past life, but an opening to a new reality, a “new land” united
at last with God’s Heaven. Therefore St Paul writes: “If the Spirit of him who
raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from will
give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom
and sisters, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who previously shared in this
Resurrection, so that she may help us to say faithfully: “Yes, Lord; I believe
that you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn 11:27), to truly discover that he
is our salvation.”
the Angelus message of Pope Benedict XVI, April 10th, 2011, Fifth
Sunday of Lent