Today is the Divine Mercy Sunday. For that reason, we consider the purpose of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord. In John’s gospel, the final purpose is to have faith in the messiah. By this, the evangelist wants each of us to come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief we may have life in his name.
St. Paul tells us about the great treasure we have, in believing and knowing Jesus Christ. He says that he has come to consider whatever gains he had, as loss because of supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus the Lord (Philippians 3:7). In his great mercy, the Lord, Jesus gave his apostles the power to forgive sins, and to bring his peace to all. In Matthew 28:19-20, the post resurrection mandate to the disciples was “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” However, in John, this mandate comes to be about the forgiveness of sins, which in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 belongs to the pre-resurrection phase of the ministry of Jesus.
Also today, St. John presents us with the proof of the resurrection in relation to Thomas (John 20:19-31). This disciple, also known as the “doubting Thomas,” was only interested in some empirical evidence in order to be convinced that Jesus truly resurrected from the dead. As we shall see, this segment is an anti-Gnostic pericope intended to negate the Gnostic thesis that the body is evil.
In today’s gospel, the doors of the house, where the disciples met, were locked. The simple reason for this “life behind locked doors,” is that these disciples were afraid of those who had killed Jesus. Perhaps, they were still thinking that they could possibly be apprehended and executed like their master, Jesus. In the midst of this fear, tension, and uncertainty, Jesus appeared to them and said: “Peace be with you.” So, the resurrection of Jesus becomes the resurrection of the “messenger of peace.” So, we can say that his name is “Shalom.”
Jesus greeted them with words they needed to hear in their “fear of the Jews.” His greeting is a response to their present emotional and uncertain situation. He knew that they needed reassurance and renewal of hope in him. On this point, he clearly scored a “home-run.” He delivered. Although, his disciples disappointed him and ran away from him in his greatest hour of need, now in their most anxious moment, Jesus became their most trusted friend. Instead of running away from them, he ran to them to pronounce peace upon them. Hence, he did not disappoint. In the midst of their disillusionment, fear, terror, and uncertainty, Jesus’ first words responding to their depressing situation was: “Peace be with you.“ And today, Jesus is also calling upon us to do likewise, to the depressed people that we meet. Instead of scolding them for running away from him during his arrest and crucifixion on the cross, he has responded with a “peace offer.” His greeting is also a wish for them as to how they can respond to what has happened. He does not respond with hostility or with expressions of vengeance for those who had killed him; rather, his first response is peace, shalom. And now, as the Father has sent Jesus, so also he sends these disciples. Henceforth, they are to extend this mission of peace. They are now carrying a “peace banner.” In order to bring peace to others, like St. Thomas, we have to encounter Jesus and have experience of his resurrection in our own lives, and with Thomas profess Jesus as Lord and God.
Encountering Christ and bringing the resulting peace to others, enables us to live in oneness with them, which characterized the early Church, as we see in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. In this way, we actualize what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and to have been begotten by God (1 John 5:1-6). Let us, therefore, with the apostles live in the peace of Christ and bring that peace to others, especially to those who are estranged from us. We have received mercy from God that, we might be emissaries of mercy to others. “ God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).” Let us be agents of reconciliation.