2nd Sunday of Easter Reflection
MERCY & JUSTICE: A MEETING BEYOND DEATH
Sunday 2 of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday 2021
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘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.’ But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)
Most High Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart… This, the anguished call of the holy seraphic saint of God, Francis of Assisi seeking the gift of true faith, certain hope, and perfect Love. Now I also have the courage to call out, “enlighten the darkness of my heart”. Each one of us who have been touched by grace to know our own darkness, know our need for mercy, cry out for mercy, “have Mercy on me, God, for I have sinned!”. Yet with the same lips, I call out for justice, “avenge me of God; see how they plot evil against me; destroy them so that I may have justice, so that I am a have compensation”.
To see with new eyes this duality within me, both light and darkness, without suppression or rejection, I stand today with Thomas, unbelieving yet hopeful.
In a single instant, the world of Thomas is thrown upside down. Touching the wounds of the Christ, all the teachings, all the structures, all the heritage of the generations, and all the heavy burdens of the ages fall away, meaningless, totally absurd. Touching the wounds of Christ, Thomas has touched the universal pattern of undoing death; all the striving and all the desires, everything that had been important up to this instant, discarded like the skin of the caterpillar.
Each one of us has now touched the wounds of Christ, in each other, and also within the world that we all have created; so much pain, so much suffering, and so much despair. We have touched the wounds and we have felt the pain, and our world of today can never be the same again. Do not divert your gaze, look upon the wounds, see them and touch them. Our ferocious caterpillar appetite is exposed and seen by everyone for the selfishness which it is. Now our tears, along with the tears of Mary Magdalene, wash the feet of Jesus, the Christ.
What dare we now hope for as the Butterfly emerges? How may we hope that all will be saved, that all may be reconciled and redeemed? How can we return to this vision given to us by the Christ event?
Yes, the butterfly of a new consciousness is emerging and we as a people are facing the adventure of new possibilities, but first, we must discard the old wine-skins and images that no longer serve us as God’s family.
Much of religion has clung tenaciously to the image of an embodied male God, the God of Mars, the God of War, the God of Empire; a God made in our own image in all we can subdue, in all, we can own and subjugate of man and beast alike, entitled and dominating.
We may acknowledge that God is spirit and that the church is our mother, yet these most ancient images of the men of Empire and subjugation clings to our language, our liturgy, and our art.
The church is our mother and we desperately need the compassion of a mother. Perhaps this lack of a motherly God-image is the reason for our well-developed reflexive muscle of “pay-back” and all too often spiteful and prejudicial justice, while Mercy hangs limply from the socket.
Without this mercy and forgiveness for myself, for others, and for all of creation, we are not free; and because Love needs freedom, un-forgiveness blocks us from experiencing Love; blocks us from experiencing God; blocks us from being authentic to our purpose continuing the work of redemption in the God-image.
This dominion over the earth, sometimes understood in a one-sided and superficial way, seems to leave no room for Mercy. If we do accept that we have been made by God who is good; made by Love, and that the purpose of our lives must be to Love and to be Loved, our hearts will be forever closed in on ourselves, empty and void of joy.
Love cannot exist without forgiveness as much as it cannot exist in indifference, because un-forgiveness is always about me and the past; is always about my precious; my opinions; my honour; my hurt; my loss, and my needs. This opposes Love that is always about the other; Love needs the good of the other; Love must be in the present.
This is our great doubt and the great need; the tension between Justice and Mercy; the tension between our great need for forgiveness and our desire for retribution. Without finding that possibility of forgiveness in my own heart, I have blocked myself off from Mercy. Without foregoing my own desire for compensation, for retribution, I have closed the door to the great gift of Mercy that Love offers us.
Together let us seek to discard all of these old images which can never portray the truth and beauty of the emerging butterfly. Like the butterfly, we must also learn to walk lightly in creation, to feel and participate in that energy of God’s spirit that pulsates throughout the universe.
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