On April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday, our Holy Father presided over the Church’s canonization of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II. There was some speculation concerning what the pope’s homily would be about, and how it would touch upon the sanctity of these two popes from recent memory, in light of the Sunday’s gospel reading in which Thomas (Didymus; “Doubting Thomas”) is not present when Jesus first appears in the upper room, and tells the others that he will not believe unless he puts his hands into our Lord’s side. One wonders why Jesus appeared bearing the marks at all, since His resurrection was supposed to completely defeat death. From the homily:
He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we have heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Thomas was also present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).
The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).