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By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Peace be with you. What were Christ's first words to his discouraged, disheartened, and intimidated Apostles? Yes, what were the Lord's first words to them after His betrayal arrest, passion, crucifixion, and burial? Peace be with you.
You gotta be kidding me! I'm not.
Peace be with you.
A few weeks ago, Pope Francis made the surprise announcement of an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, saying he wants to make it evident that the Church's mission is as a witness of compassion.
“Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always, ...Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”
The time is ripe for mercy.
He went on to say, “I am convinced that the whole Church — which has much need to receive mercy, because we are sinners — will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time,”
Pope Francis made the announcement in St. Peter’s Basilica while celebrating a penitential service on the second anniversary of his pontificate.
Are you ready to show some mercy? This is the year the Lord has made to find out. All of us are in need of God's mercy. All of us are in need of showing mercy towards someone. Who is that special someone in your life?
Forgiveness of sins. What was the second thing the Lord did after He appeared to His Apostles? He forgave them and gave them the power to forgive in His name. "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
This entire scene, in the upper room, is so reminiscent of that very first scene in which Adam and Eve hide from God. Back then, Adam and Eve hide in the forest. Here, the Apostles had the doors locked out of fear of the Jews - and maybe even out of fear of the Big Jew, Jesus.
But God always knows where to look. Right into our hearts!
What is the purpose of the church? To do what Jesus did during His ministry: forgive sins. Why does the Church exist? To do what Jesus always did: forgive sinners.
+Is there someone I need to forgive? Is there someone I need to seek forgiveness from? Who is that special someone in your life?
Blessed Are You Who Believed. Why was Thomas the only Apostle missing when the Lord first appeared to the Twelve? It's ridiculous to think He didn't know. Of course He knew! So, why did Jesus pick that particular day and time? Was the Lord trying to avoid Him? Yes.
Why? I believe it was to give Thomas a great opportunity to grow up; that is, to grow in faith, hope and love; to go beyond what eye can see and ear can hear - and believe without ever seeing.
To be better than the original group!, who believed only after they saw.
+ Is the Lord giving you an opportunity to grow, right now? Or do you think, like Thomas, that the Lord has abandoned you and forgotten you?
Do you feel like the Church has abandoned you or rejected you? Do you feel like the Church doesn't care about you? Then you should do what Thomas did: STAND YOUR GROUND! I'm not moving from here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here until I see for myself that Jesus is alive.
When opportunity knocks. Do you feel like God has abandoned you? If so, don't run away from Him! Don't throw in the towel. Instead, get closer to Him! This isn't the time to feel abandoned. No! This is the day the Lord has made! If opportunity knocks, then open the door.
A few days ago I read this beautiful article written by a CNN correspondent entitled: "How Pope Francis awakened the faith of a CNN anchor." This is what she wrote:
I remember the day I stopped praying. It was the day after my little brother, Jimmy, died of cancer. He was 25. I was so angry at God.
I was 27 at the time, and, like most young people I had stopped going to church. But, on that day -- that terrible day -- I desperately needed to understand why God took my brother. I called the nearest Catholic church, looking for a priest. A lady picked up the phone. "Can I talk with Father?" I asked.
I wish I could say her answer was "yes."
Instead, she asked me if I was a member of that particular parish. "Does it matter?" I asked. (At the time I lived far from my home parish.) I don't remember how she responded, but the answer about my being able to see Father was clearly no.
...Ever since, I've considered myself a lapsed Catholic. Until Pope Francis.
Isn't her story our story?: Feelings of abandonment followed by feelings of anger and resentment, followed by closing the door on God, the Church and life in general.
It's time to change our story. God never abandons. Stand your ground. Don't go anywhere. Keep knocking.