BRIDGEPORT– Doubt and fear are part of our fallen human condition, but obstacles to faith can be overcome by “readying our hearts” to receive the Divine Mercy that is there for the asking, said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter.
In his weekly online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel, the bishop reflected on the Gospel of John (20: 19-31), when Jesus speaks to Thomas in the upper room. “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’”
The bishop explained that the possibility Jesus would have risen in bodily form would have been difficult for the apostles to believe unless they saw it with their own eyes. Yet, “doubting” Thomas teaches us an important lesson about faith.
Because Thomas was not with the other apostles the first time Jesus appeared to them in the upper room, he wanted proof. But in a moment of faith he no longer needed to touch the wounds of the Risen Lord because he saw him through the eyes of faith.
“What does it mean to see the Lord?” the bishop asked.
He said the apostles had the privilege of seeing Jesus with their own eyes, but we are challenged to see the Lord in a different way, “through clarifying our vision and keeping our minds focused without distractions that can create doubt.”
The Bishop said he wonders what Thomas did in the week between the first and second appearance of Jesus.
“How much did his heart burn to see the Lord? Did he spend the time taking out the distractions and worldly presumptions, so that he was ready to see the Lord when he came?”
Likewise, we are challenged to ready ourselves by focusing on the Lord and his teaching, “and we will see him, and doubt less the more we see him,” he said.
The second obstacle to faith discussed in the gospel is fear. The bishop noted that even after being moved to joy by the Lord’s first appearance to them, the apostles remained locked in the upper room a week later because they were still afraid.
“They came to faith, but it did not move them to action,” the bishop said of their reaction to the first appearance. “The apostles didn’t yet have the power of Holy Spirit that came to them at Pentecost, so that they could do what they might not normally do with their own talent.”
Like the apostles in the upper room, we often lock the doors out of fear, rather than reaching out, reconciling, challenging or addressing a difficult situation, the bishop said. “We’re afraid “to write that letter, make that phone call, or confront someone we love with the truth.”
“The apostles unlocked the door when the Spirit finally came to them in Pentecost,” he said, adding that the same “Spirit is dwelling in our hearts. When fears make the best of us, we can ask for the grace to overcome them with His power, not with our power.”
“Today is Divine Mercy Sunday when we remember that from the side of the Lord flowed the blood and water, the sacrament of our regeneration and baptism, and the celestial food in our journey to heaven. How merciful to extend this bridge to eternal life, forgive our sins and give us the path to freedom.”
The bishop concluded by saying, “Along the way in that journey there will be times we will doubt like Thomas and be fearful like the rest of the apostles, but do not fear because God’s mercy is there to help us and see us through.”
After Mass bishop thanked all those who joined him for the online Mass and wished all a “continuing blessed, happy and joyful Easter, a 50-day celebration of the great gift which is the Risen Lord in our midst.”
The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 am and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist. You are invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 pm visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/