In the Gospel today we encounter Thomas. The Apostles tell Thomas that they have seen the Risen Lord. They tell him about the gift of peace he offered them and how he breathed on them and had told them to receive the Holy Spirit. They told him of the mandate he had given them to heal the world by forgiving sins in his name and by his authority. They told him everything.
But it wasn't enough for Thomas. The witness of his fellow Apostles wasn't enough. And then Thomas laid down his test. "Let him show me his hands and his feet. Let me place my hand in his side where he was pierced by a lance. Then, and only, then will I believe."
And a week later Jesus came again, and this time Thomas was there. And Jesus was ready to take the Thomas Test. He invites Thomas to touch his wounds.
Thomas saw the hands, the feet and the wounded side of Jesus and he made his great statement of faith: "My Lord and my God."
Jesus, resurrected from the dead, has a body that is glorified. It is different somehow from the body he had before his crucifixion. That's why Mary Magdalene and the Apostles didn't recognize him at first. And yet, what is amazing is that the body of the Risen Lord still bore the scars that testified to his love for his disciples and all the world. Even the glory of the resurrection did not wipe away the effects of his living and his dying. The wounds are the signs of Jesus' love for us. And Jesus was all too happy to show Thomas his hands, his feet and his side.
Thomas saw and believed. And Jesus pronounces a great blessing for all ofus. "Blessed are they who have not seen and, yet, believe." Our faith is based on the witness of the Apostles. We say that we believe. We say that we are Christians.
But what's the proof? Would we be able to pass the Thomas Test of Christianity? Do we bear the marks of having worked for justice, of having thirsted for righteousness, of having accepted the sting of turning the other cheek, of having forgiven trespasses, of having shown mercy without demanding a pound of flesh,
of having born all things with love? Do we bear the marks of being followers of Jesus on our hands and our feet and our sides? Could we pass the Thomas Test of Christianity? "Show me your hands, show me your feet, show me your side."
The saints are all people who have passed the Thomas Test. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Maximillian Kolby and Saint Damian of Molokai are good examples. But we all know 'living' saints -people from our own families. our circle of friends, our parish, who bear the marks of living Christianity.
"Show me your hands." I think of someone like Brother Vic. He was a lay brother with the Comboni Missionaries. He had come to America from Italy before graduating from high school and was given the job of building Sacred Heart Seminary in Cincinnati where I one studied. And then after learning every trade known to mankind as he built the seminary, he spent the rest of his life taking care of it. He was always present with a mop and a bucket or a hammer and a wrench in his hands. He was always cleaning up after us seminarians, fixing what we broke and always with a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. He always had a story of his own seminary days which somehow always managed to excuse the mischief we had gotten into. I always remember his hands. Brother Vic's calloused hands bore the marks of an entire life spent serving others.
"Show me your feet?" I have a friend who is a mediator- a professional mediator. Most of us would do anything to avoid conflict. Most people hate situations of conflict. She walks into situations of conflict where individuals and groups are at war with each other and no longer talking. And she tries to build bridges of understanding. Her job is to make sure that everyone feels that they have been heard and understood. It is straining work. She tries to put herself in the shoes of others and find common ground. She tells me that many nights she doesn't sleep because she always brings her work home with her. She spends restless nights wondering if she missed an opportunity to bring people together. Sometimes she is successful and sometimes she is not. She bears the marks on her feet of walking in other people's shoes.
And what about the 'heart wounds'? "Show me your side." Perhaps these are the most telling. You know 'heart wounds' when you meet people who toss and tum at night worrying about a genocide that is taking place seven thousand miles away or the atrocity of abortion much closer to home. You see these wounds in the
person who meets people on the street who look or sound different and their first concern is not their immigration status, but whether they have a place to stay and food to eat. You see these 'heart wounds' in people who serve at food pantries and homeless shelters and in people who remember others every time they do their grocery shopping. You see these heart wounds in the multitude of people who will risk their own safety and sacrifice their own comfort today to meet the needs of others created by the pandemic. "Show me your side."
The risen Jesus bore the marks of his living and his dying in his hands, his feet and his side. Those marks were his calling card - the proof that he was who he said hat he was. Thomas asked him for that proof, and Jesus passed Thomas' test.
We say that we are Christians. We say that we are followers of the Risen Lord. Could we pass the Thomas Test? If Jesus would ask us to show him our hands, our feet and our sides, what would we have to show? Hopefully hands that are calloused from service, feet that are tired from walking in other people's shoes and hearts, like that of Jesus, that are wounded by concern for others.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, it would be good for us to remember the works of mercy that are at the very heart of our discipleship. The corporal works of mercy are feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, comforting the imprisoned, visiting the sick and burying the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are admonishing sinners, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, being patient with those in error, forgiving offenses, and praying for the living and the dead.
Living our lives in this way, striving to live our lives int his way, should leave some marks on our hands and our feet and our hearts. And those marks, at journey's end, will be our calling card. They will be the sign that we truly are his followers. With those marks we will pass the Thomas Test of Christianity