No Grudges
2nd Sunday of Easter

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Imagine an alternative scene to this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus appeared to His gathered disciples after the resurrection and His first words were, “You cowards, you fair weather friends! Where were you when I was hanging on the cross? You ran away. There were only John and my mother with two other women!” What would follow would then be recriminations and pointing fingers. Fortunately for the disciples, Jesus appeared with words of peace and encouragement, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn. 20:21).

Jesus did not appear to his disciples in order to blame or shame them. He came among them in order to build them up. He appeared among them as one who considered them His friends still – despite their cowardice. Knowing that they were weak, he came to strengthen them by giving them the Holy Spirit (v. 22). He did the same to Thomas, the doubting apostle. He built up the faith of Thomas.

Action starter: Surprise people with random acts of kindness and mercy.

The post-resurrection scene showed Jesus not as an avenging judge but as a merciful advocate. He forgave his weak disciples. Not only that, He even made them instruments of His ministry of forgiveness, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (v. 23). For this reason, this Sunday is also called Divine Mercy Sunday. The devotion to Jesus as Divine Mercy was promoted by St. Faustina Kowalska, who was canonized by pope John Paul II six years ago.

The picture of the Divine Mercy is now widespread and easily recognized. It shows Jesus with his wounds and bathed in light as He first appeared to His friends. When I contemplate the image, I get the feeling that Jesus is looking into the deep recesses of my heart and despite what He sees there, He forgives and He accepts me. Jesus forgave Peter who denied Him, Thomas who doubted He has risen, and all the other disciples who ran away in His time of trial. He did not hold any grudge against them. The good news is that His mercy extends to us too.

Jesus is the model of a pro-active person. He chooses to forgive, to build up, and to encourage His weak followers, even if they disappoint Him. Reactive persons would easily give up on people who fail them. Perhaps, if one is generous, one could give the offending party another chance, and then that’s it. We would have nothing to do with a person who constantly disappoints us.

Jesus on the other hand is rich in mercy, “dives in misericordia”. May we avail of the fountain of the Lord’s mercy, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. May we also practice mercy and forgiveness, because we have experienced God as Divine Mercy.