by Fr. Tommy Lane
The apostle Thomas went from doubting Jesus’ resurrection to professing his faith in Jesus and declaring Jesus’ divinity, “My Lord and my God.” What happened? He encountered the love of Jesus. We could say he encountered the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus said, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” (John 20:27) In the Gospel of John life flows out of the side of Christ, flows out of his heart. Earlier in the Gospel during the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus said rivers of water would flow out of him to anyone who believes (John 7:38) and this life-giving water is the Holy Spirit (7:38). When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side on the cross blood and water flowed out (19:34) which the Church has always seen as signifying the sacraments especially Baptism and the Eucharist (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1225). Now when Thomas sees the wound in Christ’s side he is overcome. The physical wound which Thomas saw was only the gateway to the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. What Thomas really saw was the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for him.
Thomas is overcome because he sees a heart that is wounded, wounded out of love for humanity, the Sacred Heart that took the sin of humanity upon itself. That is what love does, love suffers for the other and Thomas now sees this suffering wounded love before his eyes in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thomas sees the pain in Jesus’ heart caused by man’s ingratitude and lack of belief. Thomas sees Divine Mercy in physical form. Divine Mercy takes the sin of mankind upon its own heart instead of inflicting on humanity the just punishment for sin. Divine Mercy forgives, heals and restores. Jesus invites Thomas, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” (John 20:27). Thomas is invited, as it were, to touch the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Thomas encounters the Sacred Heart of Jesus he is forgiven, healed and restored. His heart is also changed into a heart of love. He can only respond, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) It is no surprise then that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an Easter spirituality (Behold the Pierced One p49) and its almost disappearance since Vatican II is a misunderstanding of Vatican II (Behold the Pierced One p51). The image of Christ’s heart is the center of the Easter image according to Ratzinger (Behold the Pierced One p50). (See also Haurietis Aquas the encyclical of Pope Pius XII on Devotion to the Sacred Heart)
In recent years another image of Christ’s heart, the image of Divine Mercy with blood and water flowing from Christ’s heart which we especially venerate today, has also been coming to the fore as an Easter image. The Divine Mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been spreading out ever since Christ’s side was opened on Calvary. So as we heard today Christ bestowed the Holy Spirit on the apostles which was not another version of Pentecost but rather a special and specific outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles to forgive sins, to change human hearts to be more like the heart of Jesus.
Christ’s Sacred Heart which raised up Thomas from despair to faith is ready to raise up each of us from any despair we may have to Christian hope. Christ invites each of us, “…bring your hand and put it into my side…” (John 20:27) Christ invites each of us to touch his Sacred Heart, to allow our hearts become hearts of love. As we look on Christ’s Sacred Heart we see that Christ’s love forgives us, heals us and restores us. The physical wound in Christ’s side is only the gateway to the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. In Christ’s Sacred Heart we see the love of Jesus for us and we respond, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for the Second Sunday of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday 2008
Related Homilies: Why confess sins to a priest?