Reflection by Bernadine Mmadubuko (Novice with Dominican Sisters, Cabra in S. Africa)
The Apostles locked themselves up in the room because of their fear of the Jews or to save themselves from the embarrassment that their master whom they trusted so much had disappointed and abandoned them. It was in the midst of these anxieties and confusion that Christ appeared to them and gave them peace. He then commissioned them and sent them on a mission, a mission to forgive and to preach the kingdom of God to the ends of the world.
This forgiveness from God and from one another is what we are also celebrating today, the Divine Mercy Sunday. Sometimes, Christians find themselves in situations similar to those of the apostles, fearing the authorities and what people will say. When we face difficulties in life, death of a loved one, disappointments, economic meltdown, during the time of war or national calamity, the list is endless, what do we do? Many of us will first withdraw ourselves both from God and from people who might be willing to help. We close the doors of hope and possibilities just as the apostles did in today’s Gospel. Sometimes we can doubt the existence of God just as Thomas did. All these actions and re-actions are all normal because we are human. Jesus and the saints at one time or the other felt abandoned, but the big issue is how we handle these situations when we are faced with them.
Doubt, abandonment, illness, sudden deaths, financial difficulties and so on are all moments of grace. They are moments when we can be true to ourselves and true to God, just like Thomas said “unless I can see the holes that the nails made in His hands and put my finger into the holes they made ……, I refuse to believe.” At the same time it is the moment that God is true to us. It is in times like these that God works against all odds, breaking all the barriers, even when we have closed the doors of our hearts, to show Himself and His love. He is ready to mend broken relationships. Jesus came back again to the upper room to show Himself to Thomas in order to make him believe again. God is always in search of us when we go astray. Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, a day the church sets apart to remind us of the unconditional love of God, the love of God that made Him send His only Son to redeem us, the love that made Jesus lay down His life for us. When we are caught up with ups and downs of life, let us remember that God has shown unconditional love and endless mercy to us. There is no need of withdrawing to ourselves because of fears, because we think we cannot be forgiven or because we think God has abandoned us. Let us rise up beyond our fears, worries and failures and open the doors and windows of our hearts to receive His Divine Love and Mercy as we continue in the joy of His resurrection.
Bernadine Mmadubuko (Novice with the Dominican Sisters, Cabra in S. Africa)