"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
May 1: Divine Mercy Sunday // Beatification of Pope John Paul II
The first letter of Peter was written primarily for those who had been recently baptized and were suffering persecution. He reminds us that because we have been “born anew to a living hope” in baptism we “may have to suffer through various trials.” Such trials, he says, are meant to strengthen our faith. Notice the connection with this week’s Gospel as Peter echoes Jesus’ words to Thomas: “Even though you do not see him now, yet you believe in him.” (1 Pt 1:8).
Thomas was intensely loyal to Christ, and yet when it came to the Resurrection he had some doubts. Thomas, you may recall, was willing die with the Lord when he went back to Judea to raise Lazarus (Jn 11:16). Thomas’ need for proof shows that belief in the resurrection has never been easy. Thomas’ fragile faith, however, was solidified when Christ told him to touch his body.
Falling down in humble adoration Thomas declared his fidelity: “My Lord and my God!” The climax of the Gospel comes when Jesus says to him—and to us—“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.” Belief may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. With God’s grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, anyone can have faith if they are willing to believe and accept God’s mercy as Thomas did.
Key verse: “Although you have not seen him, you love him” (1 Pt 1:8).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “In the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus ‘the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ It is in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe’” (No. 272).
Pope Benedict XVI: “Mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive love. May this merciful love also shine on the face of the Church and show itself through the sacraments, in particular that of reconciliation, and in works of charity” (Regina Caeli, March 30, 2008).
Life application: This weekend we not only celebrate the unfathomable mercy of God who showed himself once more to the apostles, we also celebrate the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Some people want physical proof before they’ll believe in God. John Paul II’s heroic witness to the mercy of God, as with all the saints, is a resounding testimony to the truth of the Gospel.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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