First Reading: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm: 118. R. v. 1; Second Reading: 1Jn 5:1-7; Gospel: Jn 20:19-31



Commentary on John 20:19-31 - Working Preacher from Luther Seminary

The disciples were overwhelmed with mixed feelings at this time. Mary Magdalene had announced to them that the body of the Lord was missing. Peter and John went to the tomb and saw for themselves that this was true. They returned anxious and confused while Mary remained by the tomb. And almost immediately, the same Mary Magdalene came again and said to them, “I have seen the Lord!” At this point, the disciples did not know what to believe anymore. Their anxiety and confusion heightened. Coupled with these feelings, they were scared of the Jews. They might be accused of stealing the body of Jesus and consequently were scared of what might follow after. This was why they stayed behind closed doors.

Other feelings that engulfed the disciples were definitely the feelings of guilt and shame. If Jesus has truly risen as Mary Magdalene announced, how would they face him? Recall what happened at the passion and death of Jesus. Prior to this, Peter had pledged his unalloyed allegiance to Jesus but denied Jesus three times when faced with the reality of torture and pain. As for the rest of the disciples, they all fled and deserted Jesus when Jesus was arrested up until he was crucified. Only John the beloved was reported to be present at the foot of the cross. Nothing could be more heartbreaking to be deserted by friends in moments when they are needed most. Obviously, the disciples were scared to face Jesus again.

Jesus was very much aware of their mixed feelings. And so, when he appeared to them behind closed doors, his first words to them was; “Peace be with you.” Peace indeed was what they needed at that moment. And hearing Jesus say this in place of berating them for their unfaithfulness was so reassuring and consoling. And the disciples were glad when they saw that the Lord appeared to them in this manner. Jesus also showed them the scars in his hands and side, not to remind them that they played a part in it; but to show them that the wounds of the past have now been healed. Wounds bleed; but scars do not. So, the pain and the agony are gone. Healing has taken place. This should comfort the disciples.

But although Jesus came bringing peace and forgiveness to his disciples; this however did not erase the scars on his body. The scar is part of his story. His suffering, death and resurrection are not disconnected but connected. So there is a message for his disciples on this. For them to receive the fullness of Jesus’ mercy, they must make sure they don’t play a part in hurting Jesus anymore. They must look at the scars of Jesus and learn from their mistakes. They must show remorse for their failures and grow stronger in faith. Their past mistakes are not disconnected from their healing process. So for them to heal well, they must learn from their past mistakes.

And this is how the mercy of God works. Divine mercy and forgiveness is not without remorse or a change of heart. God needs us to repent so as to receive his mercy and forgiveness. So, as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday today, we must understand how the mercy of God works and also bring it into our relationship with one another.

Each of us has hurt someone in our life that we regret. We can help them heal when they begin to see that we are not just sorry for the hurt we have caused them but have also become a changed person. Forgiving us becomes easy for them when they discover that we have learnt from the mistakes of the past and are making efforts to become a better person. A cheating spouse must begin to show commitment and fidelity to his partner. If we betrayed a friend, then we must begin to show that we can be trusted again. And if we are guilty of aspersion, then we must begin to be honest and not allow envy influence our thoughts and opinions.

When we look at those we have hurt, it should ignite the passion in us to undo the hurts we have caused them. And if we happened to be at the receiving end; on our part, we must learn from Christ who looks at the new and not the old man. We should not dwell on the wounds but on the healing that has happened overtime. If we are worthy to receive the mercy and forgiveness of God; then others are even more worthy to receive our mercy and forgiveness as well. The scars on the body of Jesus are not meant to judge us. They are meant to help us become better disciples of the gospel.


Merciful Jesus, make us instruments of your mercy and forgiveness. Amen

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