In the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, one invocation states, “Jesus, Father of the world to come…have mercy on us.” As we continue to bask in the afterglow of the Resurrection this Easter season, let’s dive a little deeper into this title given to our Risen Savior.
Our first father, Adam, passed onto us the gift of life that God gave to him. It is life in the natural sense, according the laws of nature. However, that life which every person inherits from conception brings with it the effect of original sin: a darkened intellect and a self-inclined will. From the experience of living, we have felt the effects of this ‘fallen’ way of being, most especially in our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. There exists a tension that fights interiorly against the harmony of communion that we so desire. Through the Paschal Mystery, most especially in his Resurrection, Jesus reveals himself as the new Adam, and as the Father of the world to come.
Where the effects of sin have caused division in the heart of man, the Resurrection proposes our cause for hope. St. John Paul II explains, “The ‘redemption of the body’… expresses itself not only in… the eschatological hope of the resurrection, but [also in] the hope of victory over sin, which can be called the hope of everyday. In his everyday life, man must draw from the mystery of the redemption of the body the inspiration and strength to overcome the evil that is dormant in him in the form of the threefold concupiscence” (TOB 86:6-7).
This new world is a state of being whereby the power of Christ’s Resurrection inaugurates a new way of living as a human being. That way, forged by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is the way of Divine Mercy. Sin is the greatest enemy in man’s pursuit of union with God, and until the crucified and risen Jesus made accessible the mercy of God, mankind was stuck. Yet now through his pierced heart gushing forth grace and mercy, we may drink fully from the springs of salvation.
“Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” The Risen and glorified Jesus opens a whole new reality for our prayer and contemplation because it allows us “to unite with these words the image of the new existence in the ‘future world,’ for which earthly experience provides the substratum and basis. A corresponding theological reconstruction is possible” (TOB 69:2). That theological reconstruction is the redemption of our bodies from sin.
There is a famous painting by Caravaggio called, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas” where as a master of light and darkness, he captures this most stunning scene from today’s Gospel. One’s gaze is drawn to the moment of contact, as the Risen Jesus pulls back his garment to expose the wound that pierced his heart. Then, as a father carefully guiding the hand of a son to handle something delicate and precious, our Lord leads the questioning hand of St. Thomas into his wounded side. One can only wonder what thoughts were racing through Thomas’ mind and heart before he exclaimed his famous declaration, “My Lord and my God.” That a body and soul could re-unite in such a way after death, Thomas, with his finite capacity to make sense of all of this, was brought to his limit. What will it be like in the resurrection? Again, St. John Paul II proposes, “This will be a completely new experience, and yet, at the same time, it will not be alienated in any way from the experience man shared ‘from the beginning’ nor from that which, in the historical dimension of his existence, constituted in him the source of the tension between the spirit and the body… with reference to the procreative meaning of the body and of [its] sex.” He continues, “The man of the ‘future world’ will find in this new experience of his own Body the fulfillment of what he carried in himself perennially and historically” (TOB 69:5).
Jesus, Father of the world to come…have mercy on us. This is the Divine Mercy of God, that like St. Thomas, as we enter into the sacred and glorified wounds of Jesus, from which poured forth his blood for the salvation of the world, we are not simply remade, but we are rediscovered. The Resurrection “will above all be man’s rediscovery of himself, not only in the depths of his own person [fulfillment of original solitude], but also in that union that is proper to the world of persons in their psychosomatic constitution [fulfillment of original unity]” (TOB 68:4).
This Second Sunday of Easter was pronounced by Pope Saint John Paul II as Divine Mercy Sunday in the year 2000. And in 2005, on the vigil of this Feast of Mercy, our beloved Holy Father was called home God. We remember the gift of his life and example, and one who, after allowing the Divine Mercy of God to refashion his own being, rediscovered himself as one who did not belong to this world, but one whose life pointed all to the world to come. St. John Paul II…pray for us.
To Download a PDF Version of this Homily, Click Here: Divine Mercy Year A
Fr. Jon Schnobrich was ordained a priest for the diocese of Burlington, Vermont in 2007. He resides in Burlington where he is the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Burlington. He has attended four courses with the Institute as a student and as a chaplain. Fr. Jon was a contributing writer to the “Theology of the Body and Priestly Prayer” curriculum.