Weekly Words from The Rock

Reflecting on Divine Mercy Sunday, I would like to look at the word mercy. I want to share with you some random thoughts on mercy.

Mercy = a heart moved by misery.

Mercy began with the first sin; however, there are consequences.  In Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve realize, because of their sin, that they are naked.  What does God do?  He makes clothes of animal skins. Thus, one of the consequences of the original sin is that animals had to die. We teach that original sin is passed on from generation to generation.  Too, the effects of sin are passed down from generation to generation.  An example. Think about alcoholism or anger. What do we say?  That is the way his father or grandfather were.

What does sin bring?  Old Testament priests were marked by severity. Punishment was severe for sinners, sometimes leading to separation (think leprosy).

Jesus is ruled by mercy and solidarity. (If you want to see the difference, read the story of the Prodigal Son.  The son who leaves home ends up feeding the pigs.  Jewish people cannot eat pork. That gives you an idea of how difficult the times had become for the son.  In the day, when you returned and had done what the younger son did, the result was public shame and expulsion from the family.  However, Jesus Christ, portrayed by the father, teaches us a different way).

The Old Testament law couldn’t heal (a leper, etc.).  It could only keep a disease from spreading. Only Jesus Christ could heal. When Jesus Christ died, the Holy of Holies (the place where only the chief priest could enter one per year) was exposed.  With the new Holy of Holies – Jesus Christ – people are no longer told to stay away.  Jesus Christ tells them to come.  He is love and mercy.

Our current model of running the church often is marked by maintenance rather than outreach. Mercy requires movement – that we go out.  The culture does not applaud priesthood today.  People desire revenge, not mercy.

How did the early Church grow? People saw mercy.  Unwanted babies, which were tossed over bridges, were picked up by Christians.  People also saw the willingness to suffer and die for their faith.  People wanted to be part of this.

Story of the Apostle Thomas

On the Second Sunday of Easter, our gospel story was Thomas’ encounter with the resurrected Christ.  From Harper’s Bible Dictionary, page 1066, I would like to share with you the story of Thomas.

“One of the twelves disciples or apostles of Jesus, called “Didymus”
(twin) in the Gospel of John (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2).  He appears in each of the apostolic lists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).  Receiving little mention in the synoptic Gospels, Thomas becomes important in the later portions of the fourth Gospel (the Gospel of John).

He alone appears to be a tower of strength when he encourages the disciples to accompany Jesus into a hostile Judea even if it means death (John 11:16).  He appears to be without understanding when, in John 14:5, he confesses his ignorance about where Jesus is going and therefore finds it difficult to follow him.  He is commonly remembered as the “doubting Thomas” who refused to believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw the scars and was invited to place his fingers where the nails were driven and his hand into Jesus’ side (John 20:24-29).

The story stands as a paradigm for all Christians who are called to believe in Christ without having seen him or having been granted tangible proof of his existence (verse 29).  Thomas’s response is that of all who later believe:  “My Lord and my God!”
(verse 28).  In John 21:1-14, Thomas is one of the small group of disciples who goes fishing and then sees the risen Lord. He is recorded as among those gathered in the upper room after the ascension (Acts 1:13).”

I enclose a legend of St. Thomas.
“Legends of Thomas in India abound.
In one, the King of the Indies, Gondoforus, gave a small fortune to Thomas to build a palace.  Thomas turned around and spent it on the poor, thus “building a superb place in heaven.”

Hence he is called by some patron of architects and masons, and his symbol is the builder’s square.  In another, Thomas saw the king trying in vain to haul ashore a huge beam of timber.
Even with men and elephants he failed.  So Thomas asked to have the beam, intending to use it in building a church.  His request being granted, he hauled the beam ashore with a string.”  Taken from Father Peter Klein’s, Catholic Source Book, Copyright 1990, page 226).

As for the story of Thomas’s death, it is believed he was martyred at Meliapour in south India.  One account says he was run through with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.

Categories: Weekly Columns