Receive the Holy Spirit

I still remember the image that Pope St John Paul II used on the day he was consecrated Pope on 22nd October 1978 when he said, “Brothers and sisters, do not  be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power…. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.” These words came back to me as I reflected on John 20:19-31.

In the gospel today, Jesus came through the closed doors where the disciples were and said “peace be with you”. The risen Jesus entered to free them from fear.  The resurrection means that no lock or no bar can stop the Risen one from coming in and touching our hearts. Jesus breathed on the disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This was wonderful encounter with Jesus, risen from the dead. But Thomas was not with them. Some refers to Thomas as “doubting” Thomas, because he said, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to  believe.’ As one writer points out “Thomas is not a doubter but someone who seeks experience. He does not content himself with just believing what others tell him. He wants to see, feel, touch for himself.”

All of us desire an experience of God, an experience of the risen Christ. Jesus stands among us who perhaps are still full of fear, who have closed hearts. Every Sunday as we celebrate the Eucharist Jesus stands among us. On that eighth day Thomas touched the wounds of Christ. Each Sunday at Mass Jesus allows us to touch him. “When he puts his body into our hands under the appearance of bread, the we place our finger into his wound, because it is his flesh, which he has given up for us, which he gave for the life of the world.” (Anselm Grun). When we receive the risen Lord in Holy communion, like St Thomas, we can say “My Lord and my God”

This Sunday is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The devotion of Divine Mercy was actively promoted by Pope St John Paul II. On April 30, 2000, the Canonisation of Faustina Kowalska took place and the second Sunday of Easter was officially designated as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy (Dominica II Paschae seu de divina misericordia) in the General Roman Calendar.

At the altar of St Joseph, we have Divine Mercy image. Jesus is shown, as raising his right hand in blessing and pointing with his left hand on the Sacred Heart from which flow forth two rays: one red and one pale. The depiction contains the message “Jesus I trust in you” The rays that stream out have symbolic meanings: red for the blood of Jesus and pale for the water. The whole image is a symbol of charity, forgiveness and love of God referred to as the “Fountain of  Mercy. According to Faustina’s diary, the image is based on her 1931 vision of Jesus.

On the last day of the Octave of Easter let us have the courage to come back to Jesus, to open the door of our heart to him, to meet his love and mercy in the sacraments. May we feel his closeness and tenderness. We say with faith “My Lord and my God. Jesus, I Trust you’

Canon Father Anthony
Canon Father AnthonyParish Priest