By Father Danny Ferrandiz
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os
God’s infinite mercy has four characteristics that give us H-O-P-E.
First, it’s HEALING mercy. The mercy of God comes from his wounds. When Jesus appeared to Thomas, he showed him his wounded hands. So why the hands? Often times, anger or aggression is symbolized by a closed fist. Of all the Apostles, Thomas was the angriest. He was nurturing these anger and frustrations so that when he heard the news about Jesus rising from the dead, he did not believe.
He wouldn’t accept it: “Unless I see the mark of the nails… I will not believe.” Jesus, by showing his wounded hands to Thomas and allowing him to touch it, was healing his emotions of anger and aggression. And was telling him to forgive. Jesus hands and feet which endured the most humiliating and worst torture are the same hands that prayed to the Father at the garden of Gethsemane and the same hands that stretched out at the crucifixion asking God: “Father, forgave them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus by showing his wounded hands to Thomas also healed his doubts. Doubts are in the mind. Our intellect and will are reflected in our hands because they too can reach out to understand things. The intellect grasps something when it comprehends. When we want to understand something, we say, “Let me see it,” and we take it into our hand in order to grasp it better. The wound of intellectual darkness may be associated with the wound in Christ’s right hand since the intellect is the principal spiritual faculty. Christ is the Word, the eternal wisdom of God, and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Second, God’s mercy is OVERFLOWING symbolized by the water and blood that flowed out from his side. The pierced side of Jesus healed the sin of infidelity. The piercing of the side was necessary to make sure Christ is dead. When God created Adam, his side was opened to create Eve. When Christ’s side was opened, the church was created; the ocean of graces flowed out. The church that was born becomes the bride of Christ. When people cheat and betray spouses, they also betray Jesus.
Third, God’s mercy is PENETRATING mercy. When Jesus appeared in their midst, he said to Thomas: “Touch my wounds and believe!” Why does Thomas have to put his hands into his wounds? Is seeing him alive not enough?
When a person is in deep doubt, he cannot decide, and it’s normal. For Thomas, the Resurrection was a physical impossibility from the human point of view. Moreover, his despair and disappointments added to his disbelief. And Jesus understands this. That is why he asked Thomas to touch his wounds to show to him that his forgiveness has penetrating mercy.
God’s mercy is penetrating. It’s not superficial like many of us. Sometimes, we say to people who have hurt us: “I forgive you!” But deep inside us, the hurt lingers, and we have not really let go of the pain. Jesus, by asking Thomas to put his fingers into his nail marks, wants to show him how deep his forgiveness is for them, and him, in particular, who did not believe. By putting his fingers into the nail marks of Jesus, Thomas sensibly and sincerely felt God’s forgiveness for him. He trembled when he felt the deep wounds of Christ. With tears in his eyes, he was brought down to his knees and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
Fourth, God’ mercy is EMBRACING. It does not exclude anyone. When he appeared to people, he appeared with love and compassion even to those who abandoned him. He appeared to them in the midst of their fears, regrets, and guilt. He did not judge them but reaffirmed his trust in them by giving them their mission – “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
This is his message to the world that his sacrifice on the Cross is inclusive of all – those who believe in him and those who condemned him to death. To affirm this all-inclusive mercy, he instituted the sacrament of confession through the ministry of his apostles. He gave his disciples the power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
When Christ resurrected and his body glorified, He retained the marks of his wounds so that people can remember the P-R-I-C-E of his sacrifice to:
- PROCLAIM his glory
- REMIND us that he continuously supplicates for us before the Father
- IMPRESS upon us the immensity of his love for us so that at the Last Judgment when all of us see him sitting at his throne, it would be apparent to all – even to the damned –how just God is and how they rejected this great act of redemption
- CONFIRM our faith in him
- ENTRUST our life to him
The deep wounds of Christ that healed you are a good reminder for you to forgive, too. Only when you feel God’s forgiveness on you will you be able to also forgive because his forgiveness will move your heart to do the same.
Invitation: Those interested in joining our November 2019 Holy Land-Biblical Turkey Pilgrimage can contact Mario Celis at 788-1628 or me, Father Danny, at 797-9968