Are you a doubter? I know I am, and I do it regularly. This can happen in my work and my home life. The most recent time happened the other day whilst trying to decide what we should have for dinner; I took something out of the freezer assuming I could cook it from frozen. Pam said that she had already checked and that it needed to be defrosted first. But I had to check it and picked up my magnifying glass to read the miniscule instructions. I could sense Pam’s frustration in the background, that I had doubted her. Doubt questions trust and sows division, it can disturb the peace in relationships.

In today’s Gospel we often concentrate on the disbelief of Thomas; of how the testimony of his brother Apostles was not enough for him, how he wanted proof and how Thomas made the wonderful profession of faith when he finally saw the Risen Lord – “My Lord and my God”. But if we concentrate on this, we can miss the initiation of one of the Sacraments.

Imagine what was going on with the Disciples. They are in hiding, afraid of the Jews, what would have they been thinking? They had followed Jesus and been with him for three long years, travelling from town to town, certain that Jesus was the Messiah; the one to free them from the Romans; to elevate the people of Israel back to their rightful place as the Chosen Race. They had been with Jesus, with the certainty that He was the One. All of that certainty must have crumbled as they saw their Master being taken prisoner, as they ran away; deserting Him. Now they were in fear for their own lives, despite some of them declaring to Jesus that they were prepared to die for Him.

They had heard the women say that Jesus was alive, and some may have believed it, but that little voice at the back of their mind must have been thinking, ‘if He is alive, if He has risen from the dead, and He is God, what will He do to us who deserted Him?’ They were not just in fear of the Jews in that upper room, they must have been afraid of Jesus too. But notice the first words Jesus says, “Peace be with you”. Instead of condemning them Jesus was there offering them His peace. The Apostles were overjoyed, and he again gives them His peace. Alongside peace He gives them the Holy Spirit and initiates the Sacrament of Reconciliation, telling them that in His name they can forgive sins.

Jesus did not just tell them to forgive sins using words, He did it by His actions. In giving them His peace, He was reconciling himself with the Apostles (who had abandoned Him) and reconciling the Apostles with each other. Before Jesus stood among them, the apostles would not just have been afraid, they would have been looking at each other, looking at themselves and wondering ‘could I have done more to save Jesus? Could the others have done more? Peter denied Him! We all ran away!’ However, when Jesus stood among them and gave them His peace, all of those thoughts were wiped away. Jesus reconciled the community with his Peace. This was a true sign of Christ’s Mercy.

This is what led to what we read about in the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles. The first line says “the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul.” This unity comes from being totally reconciled with God and each other. St Luke; the author of the Acts of the Apostles; goes on to describe how everyone looked out for one another, sharing all they had looking out for those in need.

The psalm picks up the theme “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love has no end.” The love of God and the mercy He shares with us has no end, God loves forever, He forgives forever, His Peace is never ending. As Christians we are asked to share that peace, that love and that mercy with everyone we meet. Every day we say the Our Father and ask God to forgive us our trespasses in the same way that we forgive those who have trespassed against us. We are called to forgive; if we bear grudges and withhold our forgiveness it is like allowing someone else to ‘live for free’ in your head. We suffer as we mull over the offences of others and hold back from forgiving them. God as the creator knows this and encourages us for our own well being and for the wellbeing of the Community to forgive; forgiveness restores peace.

In our second reading today St John’s first letter reminds us that by loving God’s other creations we are loving God. God created us to love. God is love and we are made in God’s image. We are called to reflect love. My mind was drawn to the closing words of today’s second reading and how it is linked to the trial of Jesus. St John tells us “the Spirit is another witness – since the Spirit is truth.” When we read this and then reflect on John’s Gospel from today when Jesus breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit…” This was the Spirit coming into the world. So, when Pilate asked Jesus during His trial “Truth? What is that?” (John 18:38) Pilate was speaking from a position of ignorance because the truth Jesus was speaking of, is the true witness of the truth, that we are created by God and called to love like God, to forgive like God and when we die to rise in Glory with Jesus and to live with God forever.

As we contemplate the Divine Mercy of Jesus, we may choose to ask ourselves – am I holding on to something which I really should be forgiving? Have I failed to confess any of my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do I accept the forgiveness I have been granted or do I allow past sins to dominate my thoughts?

Forgiveness is freeing, I am always struck by the words of the song ‘Forgiveness’ by Matthew West1 – “It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free, there is no end to what it’s power can do. So, let it go and be amazed, by what you see through eyes of grace, the prisoner that it really frees is you.” So today on Divine Mercy Sunday and every day we are called to forgive and to seek forgiveness, restore peace in our mind, restore peace in our household, restore peace in our Community and by our witness we will restore peace in our world, because today and every day Jesus says to us “Peace be with you”.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Divine Mercy service on Sunday at 2:30 pm at Holy Ghost Church/ streamed live.
  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • Those who do not believe in God, that this Eastertide will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Maria, who is being baptised in St Bede’s on Sunday 11th April and the six families who start the Baptism Preparation Course on the same day.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 10th April 2021.

Forgiveness

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying “Set It Free”

Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Songwriters: West Matthew Joseph

1 Matthew West, Forgiveness, available from (7) Matthew West – Forgiveness (Lyrics) – YouTube accessed 10th April 2021