In the Roman Rite, today many people are celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday. Blessed John Paul II confirmed the visions that St. Faustina reported having of our Lord Jesus Christ, which at first the Church declared were not miraculous. I often pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in my own prayer life and find it to be a consolation in times when I need mercy or when I pray for those who need mercy. In a time when the world most certainly needs mercy, this is an important day in the life of the universal church and world as a whole.
In the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Church) today, they are celebrating “Thomas Sunday” – the day when we commemorate the words of St. Thomas the Apostle after touching the wounds of our Lord – “My Lord and My God.” About this event in the Gospel, St. Augustine says Thomas “saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched; but by means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other.”
Most people are aware of this story, so I am not going to give a play-by-play of the Gospel (John 20:19-31). This Gospel reading is important any year it is read, but I would say this year is a little more important because Thomas’ words are about faith, and since we are in the Year of Faith, I think we should take these words to heart a little more than we have in the past.
The reason Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called this the Year of Faith is because he saw that there is a crisis of faith among not only Catholics, but also all people across the world. In his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, Benedict said, “Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.”
During this Year of Faith, I have seen many conversions already occur just at the parish I work at here in Scottsdale through the Adult Faith Formation Series’ we hold on Thursdays. Many individuals have come to love Christ and His Church more and more this year. The Year of Faith isn’t about just about having more faith (like St. Thomas), but it’s also a year where Catholics can come to understand and know their Catholic faith with reason (academically/intellectually).
So how does the case of St. Thomas in the Gospel of St. John reveal its importance for our lives? From his book, The Apostles, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gives us three points: “first, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.”
In this Year of Faith, let us have the faith and courage of St. Thomas and ability to say “Yes” as Our Blessed Mother did at the Annunciation.