WOUNDED AND RISEN COMMUNITY

2nd Sunday of Easter          

            An old man, a war veteran, showed me his scars from the gunshot wounds he had taken during World War II. He was very proud in telling me, “These are wounds of love for my country.”

            When the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples, one of the first things he did was to show them his wounds – his wounded hands and his pierced side. Why did Jesus keep his wounds after his Resurrection? Why did he not erase his wounds, the way his whole blood-stained body was cleansed with his resurrection? Jesus kept his wounds because it was through the pains of his wounds and sufferings on the cross that he showed his love for us. They are wounds of love, proofs of love. From the open wounds of Christ flow love and mercy.

            It is significant that on Divine Mercy Sunday we have this gospel reading. And the very image of Jesus, as seen by St. Faustina, what we call now the image of Divine Mercy, shows where the rays of mercy come from: they come from the wounded heart of Jesus. The wounds that he got are really his acts of mercy for us.

            Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, in one of his Easter homilies, points out the connection between today’s first reading and gospel reading. The first reading shows us a community that is willing to be wounded in terms of losing private property for the community. That wound, that loss in private property, becomes a vehicle of mercy towards others. The same with the mercy of Christ.

            We are presented in today’s first reading an ideal situation of the Christian community. What did they do? According to the account of the first reading: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.” How did they manifest this being of one heart and mind? According to the same account – and we have to highlight this: “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”

            It is very striking how today’s first reading describes the witness that the community of believers gives to Jesus’ Resurrections: “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” This is the community willing to be wounded.

            Pope Francis gave a beautiful homily on the Feast of the Divine Mercy last year, allow me to quote a part of it. The Holy Father said, “On this feast of Divine Mercy, the most beautiful message comes from Thomas, the disciple who arrived late.” “He was the only one missing. But the Lord waited for Thomas.” “Mercy does not abandon those who stay behind.” “Now, while we are looking forward to a slow and arduous recovery from the pandemic, there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind.” “The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference.” “A virus spread by the infected and contagious thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me.” “It begins there and ends up selecting one person over another, discarding the poor and the marginalized, and sacrificing those left behind on the altar of progress.” “The present pandemic, however, reminds us that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer.” “We are all frail, all equal, all precious.” “May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us.” “The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!” “Let us learn from the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles.” “It received mercy and lived with mercy.”

            Needless to say, this type of community does not happen automatically. It involves a choice… it involves a decision. And according to Cardinal Tagle, this choice also involves pain – meaning, such a community will be wounded in the end. It will be wounded because they will lose everything that is considered private. Only those who are willing to be wounded in this way can give rise to a community where there is no needy person.

            We, as one parish, must strive to live a community life that becomes an expression of the risen life of Christ. We must be a community that shares – time, talent, and treasure… a community that does not claim anything for oneself… a community that is sensitive to the needs of others… a community where daily needs or provisions are met. May each of us become the face of the Divine Mercy.

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