Second Sunday of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday

Every aspect of our lives demands faith. On the natural level we have faith in an airlines to get us to our destination safely. We have faith in our spouses to put family before all other considerations. We have faith in the police, the fire company and emergency workers to help us in times of crises. We put our faith in our doctors, nurses, and pharmacists when we are not feeling well[1].
On the supernatural level we put our faith in the bible, in the Church and in our God to care for us.
One week after Easter, today's readings confront the fundamental ingredient of all religion, faith. All of our celebrations presume having faith that there is a God who loves us, that he sent his Son to be one of us, that his Son suffered and died for us, but was raised from the dead and shares eternal life with us. We have faith in the Resurrection of the Lord even though we have not experienced it ourselves. Our faith is based on the Word of God in Scripture and on the Presence of God in his people.
But we are human beings. We are often tempted to doubt. Sometimes we doubt deep theological matters, like dogmatic teaching on the Virgin Assumption or Immaculate Concepcion[2]. Most often, though, we doubt regarding very practical every day matters. In times of crises we often doubt the Love of God. Everyone doubts. It is part of the human condition. Even people who claim to have great faith and who go around the world searching for miracles are often seeking a proof for faith. That is not faith. Faith is simply trusting in God.
The Apostle Thomas is presented as a human with doubts, very much like you and me. It is not that he didn't trust the Lord. He didn't trust the other disciples. Thomas could not believe Peter, James, John and the others' stories that Jesus had risen from the tomb. He doubted that Jesus would use them to convey his truth.
The words that Jesus addressed to Thomas were meant for all of us: 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.[3]" 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.[4]
We have not seen, but we believe. Yes, there is a part of every one of us that doubts. Yes, there are times that we question, particularly when a loved one becomes gravely ill or dies. But we still believe.
In the second reading St. Peter also addresses us: Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls[5].
You and I need to pray for faith every day of our lives. We have been exposed to the deepest mysteries of God. We have been called to the sacraments. We need to pray for the faith to accept the sacraments. Faith is the one gift we can be sure of receiving if we ask the Lord for that which we really need.
We worship our Lord not because we have great faith, but because we need great faith.
Blessed are we who have not seen but believe.

[1] Sunday 30th March, 2008, 2nd Sunday of Easter. Readings: Acts 2:42-47. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting-Ps 117(118):2-4, 13-15, 22-24. 1 Peter 1:3-9. John 20:19-31.
[2] The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother's womb: the dogma thus says that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, by normal sexual intercourse (Christian tradition identifies her parents as Sts. Joachim and Anne), should not be confused with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus.
[3] Cfr John 20:27.
[4] Idem.
[5] 1 Peter 1:8 ss.
Ilustration: Georges Rouault, Lord, it is You, I know You, (1922-1927), Engraving.
Georges Rouault (1871-1958) is uniquely a religious artist, and by some, is considered the most important 20th century Christian artist. He is an artist who has combined genuine faith with modern sensibility: "My ambition is to be able to some day paint a Christ so moving that those who see Him will be converted. He was born on May 27, 1871 in Paris, into a Catholic home. His first job was as an apprentice in a stained glass factory, but he soon left to study painting in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His painting teacher, Gustave Moreau, had a great influence on his life. His life was changed and his sensitivity as an artist was transformed under the influence of Leon Bloy, Jacques and Raissa Maritan, leading him to an evangelical Catholicism. As a Catholic he believed the teaching of the gospel as a solution to the problems of the day. He painted the crucified Christnot as a remote event in the past or some vague traditional symbol, but as the expression of faith that is real.The 58 plates of the Miserere, fifteen of which are in this show, were created mainly in the 1920's to be published by Ambroise Vollard. Probably no artist achieved so much in printmaking as Rouault in his Miserere series. The black and white prints werecreated by Rouault using nearly every known process of etching and engraving. Through the photoengraving process he establisheshis base work on the metal plate. This base disappears almost entirely under the extensive handwork, using aquatint, roulette, drypoint line,direct biting with acid, and scraping away parts of the original photoengraved work. Thus, he technically produced one of the most significant print series of the 20th century ■

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris