‘Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe’… ‘My Lord and my God!’ (Jn. 20:18)).
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and as we celebrate the end of the Easter Octave, we contemplate the wounded side of Our Saviour, the Church’s source of life. You recall that on Good Friday as we commemorated the Passion, we heard that as Our Lord hung in death upon the Cross, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and at once there came out blood and water (Jn. 19:34). These living streams which continue to flow from the Sacred Heart of Our Risen Lord are the saving waters of Baptism by which we are born again and become a new creation, and the Precious Blood of the Eucharist which nourishes this life. St. John Chrysostom explains: As God took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and water after his own death…. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with His own blood those to whom He Himself has given life (The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, p. 275).
‘Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe’ (Jn. 20:18)). This is much more than an invitation to doubting Thomas, as we have come to know him, to see that it is truly Our Lord who stands before him. This wound is our entry to the very Heart of God. As we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:19-21). The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. (From the Catecheses by St. John Chrysostom, The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, p. 472). What the Saints set before us in their contemplation of these mysteries of our salvation can only be grasped and rightly understood by those who are willing to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity (Heb. 6:1); a spiritual maturity that seeks to cooperate with Our Lord in the ongoing work of salvation by both prayer and active charity. The truth of what we celebrate and contemplate will only become our very own when we recognize that what is revealed to us is no less what we are called to be. True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in Him our own humanity (From a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great, The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, p. 313). To recognize in Him our own humanity is to enter into the mystery of both God and man; to ponder the meaning and purpose of human life and the manner in which we are meant to live our lives. The pierced Heart of Our Saviour is an expression of who and what we are called to be. If this sounds strange or mysterious to you, this is good. We are ready to go on to maturity (Heb. 6:1).