A reflection by Fr. Idara Otu, MSP, on Divine Mercy Sunday: Acts 5.12-16; Revelation 1.9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20.19-31.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples who are afraid and heartbroken. Jesus appears bearing the visible wounds of his scourging, of carrying the cross, of his crowning with thorns, and of his crucifixion. The disciples may not have recognized Jesus without the wounds on his body. For Thomas the apostle, faith in the risen Christ needs strengthening by seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds.
Jesus then commissions his disciples to be messengers of God’s merciful love, saying: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” With this mission, the disciples are sent to bring healing through forgiveness.
The wounds of Christ point us to our personal wounds, to the wounds of our communities, and to a wounded planet Earth. Particularly, Christ’s wounds remind us of the unhealed wounds that often weigh heavily on our hearts. These are especially the wounds caused by past mistakes and failures, doubts and worries, betrayals and broken relationships, abuse and guilt, sickness and death. Such wounds are painful and hard to embrace. Sometimes they leave us feeling helpless. Happily, Pope Francis declares the Jubilee Year of Mercy as “the favorable time to heal wounds.” The pope’s declaration can evoke a personal question: What are the wounds in my life and in today’s world that need healing?
By his wounds, Jesus reveals that he knows and shares in our woundedness. Jesus is the wounded healer who heals all wounds and the merciful companion through our healing process. For our part, we are called to embrace our wounds and present them to the risen Christ for healing. We are equally sent to forgive those who have created wounds in our lives, and reach out with merciful love to the wounded. Divine Mercy Sunday is a favorable time to renew our trust in the risen Christ, “for by his wounds we are healed.”
Fr. Idara Otu is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul of Nigeria. He is currently residing with the Scarboro Missions community in Scarborough, Ontario, while studying for his doctorate in theology at Regis College.