Jesus appears in the Upper Room, where the doors had been locked, and gives them the commission to forgive sins. This is the beginning of the sacrament of God’s great mercy that we know as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The disciples are locked away for fear of their own safety. Yet, Jesus commissions them to go out and forgive others’ sins. When Jesus appears to Thomas, he expresses that beautiful acclamation: “My Lord and my God!” And then Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” When the disciples are focused on their own safety, Jesus puts the focus on others. When the disciples are turned completely inward (and understandably so), Jesus moves the focus outward.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy. Yes, it is this mercy that Jesus wanted us to know and that he asked Saint Faustina to share with us. But this mercy is not just for us individually. It is great to receive it. However, we also must share this message of God’s mercy with others. And we must show mercy ourselves.
Doing this requires turning outward.
This is something that is difficult to do during this pandemic. We are staying at home. We are likely focused on whether we have the supplies needed for the long period of isolation. Do have the needed PPE? Do we have enough food? Not to mention the fear of economic fallout over this. Many have already been furloughed. For how long? We are not sure. This is a scary and uncertain time.
The disciples were hiding because of their fear of the Jews. Fear for their lives. We are in isolation for much the same thing, albeit due to a different cause. Yet, Jesus calls us to somehow turn our focus outward. To look toward others. To see their needs. To share the message of God’s mercy with them. To show them mercy.
How do we do this?
Have we reached out to others, especially those in isolation alone? Are we in touch with those who are especially high risk? Have we called those in nursing homes that can safely take a call? We cannot visit at this time. But we are thankful for the technology that enables us to talk to them, and even to see them. Have we reached out to reconcile with someone from whom we have been estranged? Have we offered to help with virtual activities that help build community, especially in our parish? If we can do so, have we shared our surplus with others? Have we supported the Church?
Especially in the most difficult of times, Jesus challenges us to think of others. To somehow look outward toward others. How do we answer this call?