This was first published in the St. Louis de Montfort bulletin on Divine Mercy Sunday that also fell on the feast of St. Louis de Montfort (April 28, 2019).
Happy Easter! After a long 40 days in the desert, the Church invites us to 50 days of rejoicing in the Resurrection. In today’s Gospel, we learn about the apostles encountering the Risen Christ. Thomas wasn’t in the room when Jesus visited so the apostles told him about their experience. He asked to touch Jesus’ wounds in order to believe with his own eyes. Jesus told 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." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:27-28)
Though he is known as Doubting Thomas, I argue that his experience with Christ grants him a more fitting name of Believing Thomas. Doubt can lead to discovery. He asked the question and Jesus answered. Thomas saw the glory in His wounds and came to believe the Risen Christ was in his midst.
Jesus knows of the importance of encounter in humanity. To know is to love. God is Love and became man to live, die, and raise us to new life with Him to draw us closer to Himself. He wants to know us and wants us to know Him. He came to walk in our shoes and experience woundedness. Rather than hiding His wounds, He showed them to us as a sign of His glory. His wounds are a sign of His deep love for us and His triumph over the Cross. He wants to reveal His glory through our wounds as well.
During the horror of World War II, Jesus gave St. Faustina the beautiful gift of the Divine Mercy chaplet and asked her to offer it for various souls for 9 days beginning on Good Friday and tell the world about His mercy. At her canonization in 2000, St. John Paul the Great invited the universal Church to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and our patronal feast of St. Louis de Montfort this weekend, it is proper to remember the merciful love that our patron showed throughout his life.
St. Louis de Montfort showed many acts of mercy and worked closely with those in need. He embraced a life of poverty and readily shared time and possessions with others. He preached about his love of the Cross and erected large Calvary scenes at the end of his missions. He encountered great humiliation and persecution, but remained joyful in bringing God glory. As a priest in France in the 1700s, he encountered Jansenism’s teaching on sin and predestination. He fought this by teaching about the abundant grace that God wants to grant all those who seek Him. He was devoted to Jesus through Mary and shared his love for Our Lady with everyone he encountered.
While Jesus was being crucified for our sins, He was thinking of you and me and made a point to share His mother with all of us. While others ran from the Cross, Mary remained. Shortly after becoming Our Mother, Mary witnessed the mercy that flowed from her Son’s side in the form of blood and water as a perfect and total self gift to cover our sins. In the pieta, we look upon her nurturing the wounded Christ as she did the infant Christ. She unceasingly draws the Church into a deeper relationship with her Son.
The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.” For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church. As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross. (CCC 766)
As Jesus explained to St. Faustina in her diary, the image of Divine Mercy illustrates the rays of blood and water from His heart: The two rays denote Blood and Water. the pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. (Diary 299) Below this sacred image, we read “Jesus, I Trust in You.” What hurts Jesus most is not trusting Him. His Merciful Love is inexhaustible. We just need to trust Him and ask for it. Our wounds and weaknesses bring God glory when we let Him touch them. As St. Louis treated both physical and spiritual wounds, he often preached Christ’s words, “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. For I have not come to call the just, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). May we, like Thomas, ask to encounter the glorified wounds of Christ. When we doubt, may we ask to see. God assures us that when we seek, we will find Him! “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, and I will change your lot.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
My favorite definition of mercy is “love touching misery.” Where can we allow Christ to radiate love into the misery in our hearts and how can we show merciful love to others?
I highly recommend The Second Greatest Story Ever Told on sldmfishers.formed.org to learn more about the deep connections between Mary and Mercy. Go to https://formed.org/promo/divine-mercy for 10 days of email reflections. “Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.” St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!