Sa pagdiwang ngayon ng ikalawang Linggo ng Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay, ipinagbubunyi rin natin ang Banal na Awa o Divine Mercy Sunday, na isinulong nina Santa Faustina Kowalska at John Paul II na maging unibersal na debosyon sa Simbahan. Ipinagdiriwang din natin ang pagtalaga bilang santo sa dalawang Santo Papa na tinuturing na “pastoral”: sina John XXIII at John Paul II.
Sentral sa Ebanghelyo ngayon ang awa ng Diyos, ni Hesus, lalo na sa kanyang mga disipulo.
Three reflection points for today:
(1) God Meets Us Where We Are: Ang Galaw ng Diyos.
In today’s Gospel, the movement of God in the person of Christ is in contrast with that in the last Sunday’s Gospel. Whereas last week, the disciples were going to where they thought Christ was supposed to be (i.e., in the tomb), this week we have Christ going to where the disciples are.
Ang Diyos ang unang gumalaw, ang unang nagma(ma)hal. God takes the initiative.
Sa larangan ng sining, madalas inilalarawan ang mga disipulong hinahanap ang katawan ni Kristo sa unang umaga ng Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay. Ngunit pagnilayan natin: isang magandang imahe rin sa contemplatio ay si Hesus na hinahanap rin ang kanyang mga kaibigan, mga kaibigang iniwan at tinalikuran siya noong Biyernes Santo, siguro dahil sa takot, galit, o hiya.
Ngunit nung nagtagpo si Hesus at ang kanyang mga disipulo, hindi man lang siya nagalit o nagsambit ng “Bakit niyo ako iniwan?” Instead, he gave them a greeting of peace that only He can give and breathed on them the Holy Spirit and gave them a mission, quite contrary to what a betrayed person might say to his friends.
Reflection question: Paano ko natatagpuan ang Diyos? Paano ako natatagpuan ng Diyos sa kabila ng aking paglayo sa Kanya?
(2) God Meets Us Where We Are: The Incredulity but Full Confession of Thomas
Contemplating Thomas, he might have felt devastated and sad, both because he was one of the disciples who weren’t there during their friend’s Passion and because he also wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. He must have felt so too because Jesus greeted them not with anger or lamentation, but with peace, an unsettling mercy from a betrayed friends.
And so he might have felt devastated as he might have thought he wasn’t worthy enough for the Risen Christ to appear to him, that he is not forgiven, doubting Christ’s mercy.. So perhaps when he said, ““Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” sadness might have mixed with his doubt.
But we nuance this: well-placed feelings of doubt and incredulity are entirely human as we live in the sensate level. Jesus might have chosen Thomas in the first place as a disciple precisely because Thomas’s grounding on reality and his being difficult-to-be-deceived personality, traits that a reasonable and prudent disciple should have.
But Jesus, in his entire divine mercy, understands and meets Thomas where he is. Thomas asked for real and tangible proof of His resurrection. Jesus gives him that not out of spite or out of exasperation, but out of love for his friend Thomas. And a most striking part is, contrary to what art depicts, it was not even mentioned in the Gospel that Thomas did “put (his) finger into the nailmarks and put (his) hand into his side.” Thomas just answered and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Perhaps there was no single touch.
So perhaps it is unfair that Thomas is forever depicted as the Doubting Thomas, when in fact it is from the Doubting One himself that a full confession of faith was uttered. Thomas’s words were not of incredulity or doubt but a full confession of faith, not just of Christ’s lordship but also his divinity. Among the post-Resurrection appearance stories, this one of Thomas is one of the very few that these words were uttered. Only a few people in the Scriptures have said these words. These are words that have been uttered resoundingly across the world and across centuries until today.
Reflection Question: How has Jesus shown his “marks of the nails” and his “side”, His signs of Resurrection and mercy, to me and in my life?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making yourself real to us everyday, for showing and giving us the marks of your Resurrection, your Divine Mercy, and your daily living in and with us, even if it is with difficulty that we look for them. Tulutan Niyo pong gawin kaming bukas-isip, bukas-puso, bukas-mata, bukas-kaluluwa, at babang-loob upang matanggap nang buo ang awa Mo at ng aming mga mahal sa buhay, at upang maging bukas-palad kami.
(3) John XXIII and John Paul II: Fruits of the Resurrection and the Divine Mercy
In an interview last year, Pope Francis gave us reflection of his motto, Miserando atque Eligendo. The first word doesn’t translate well into English or Spanish so he approximated by making a new word in Spanish—misericordiando or “mercy-ing”. With that, mercy becomes not just an object, but an action, a modo de proceder (Ignatian way of proceeding).
As Michelle Francl-Donnay had said, “Mercy-ing calls us to forgive the unforgivable, to look tenderly upon the unappealing and the troublesome, to be compassionate to the ungrateful. It demands that we give a full measure, packed down and flowing over, and to empty our granaries again and again for those who cannot hope to repay us. It asks us to open our hands and hearts, not because we expect mercy in return, but because who we yearn to become could not—did not—do anything less for us…For in the end, none of us is worthy of the mercy God has shown to us through his Son, the Christ, who came a-mercying, crying, ‘What I do is me: for that I came.’ (quoting As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ).”
It is because of God’s immense mercy that the Resurrection happened and that mercy-ing continues until today. At may tawag na ang ganitong mercy-ing ay maging likas na bahagi ng ating buhay Kristiyano. Madaling sambitin. Madaling ulit-ulitin sabihin. Madali ring makakalimutan. Ngunit marami tayong mga huwaran ng ganitong mercy-ing at dalawa na rito ay sina Santo Papa Juan XXII at Juan Pablo II.
Prayer: Dear Popes John XXIII and JPII, basbasan niyo po kaming lahat at tulungan niyo pa kaming maging instrumento ng pag-ibig at kapayapaan para sa isa’t isa. Bigyan niyo po kami ng sapat na lakas ng loob upang masambit man lamang nang totoo, kung hindi man maisabuhay, ang mga salitang isinapuso ninyo: “Obedientia et Pax” (John XXIII) at “Totus tuus!” (John Paul II). Ipanalangin ninyo po kami.
Thoughts inspired by Card. Chito Tagle, James Martin, SJ, and Michelle Francl-Donnay