My Dear Sisters and Brothers! What happened that the disciples moved from fear to joy. Did they look through the windows and discovered that the world had changed, that they were safe now? It wasn’t an improved situation outside which gave the disciples a reason to be ‘filled with joy.’ The fear was replaced by joy because ‘Jesus came and stood among them.’ It was Jesus’ presence, the presence of the Risen Lord, in their midst that caused their ‘metanoia,’ the conversion of their minds, hearts and souls, the conversion from fear to joy. You may find it strange to talk about conversion during Eastertide. The topic seems to be more fitting for Lent, doesn’t it? However the conversion, metanoia, which we focus on today reveals to us that the change in the disciples was of God’s making. It wasn’t what they did for God, how they changed themselves for God, but how the Risen Lord Jesus changed them. How he moved them from fear to joy.
When I read and meditated on this Gospel I thought of another passage when the disciples found themselves battling a storm on the lake of Gennesaret. When they were so terrified and exhausted they saw Jesus walking on the water. Can you remember what happened to Peter that night? Jesus told Peter to come to him across the rough lake. The rough lake was separating Peter, and the other disciples, from Jesus. Peter started walking but when he focused on big waves he lost sight of Jesus and began to sink. However when he was going down he did one thing right. He cried out: ‘Lord save me.’ Jesus, whose name means ‘God saves’ saved Peter. The Gospel we have heard today happened a long way from the Lake of Gennesaret but the rough situation the disciples found themselves in resembled the rough lake they travelled across some time earlier. Moreover the both events were filled with the saving presence of Jesus. The saving event from today’s Gospel announces also that with the Resurrection of Jesus a new reality is happening in the midst of the world. The Apostles who first closed firmly the doors were witnessing now, and became part of, what Jesus said before: ‘Behold the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’ It is the new reality we are also drawn to by our faith in the Risen Lord.
My Dear fellow believers! We can join in the song of today’s Psalmist: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end’ with the heart filled with joy despite what is happening outside because the Risen Lord appears in our midst too. He stands, he the Risen Lord, in our midst like he stood in the midst of his disciples in the Upper Room.
Twenty years ago when we held the Great Jubilee marking 2000 years from the birth of Christ, at the end of the Easter Octave, Pope John Paul II announced that this Sunday was to be called and treasured as Divine Mercy Sunday. At the same Mass the Pope also canonised Sister Faustina and spoke of the great joy filling his heart ‘in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time.’ St Faustina was the first person canonised in 2000. Thus at the threshold of the third millennium of Christianity appeared a simple nun who once heard from Jesus: ‘I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching humankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful Heart.’
St John Paul II in 2000 pointed out to this woman as an Apostle of Divine Mercy. Like those women from the Gospel who came from the empty sepulchre to the disciples to announce to them that Jesus was risen St Faustina comes to us the disciples living in fear too. She comes to us carrying the message of mercy imprinted on the Divine Mercy Image. There our Risen Lord is seen against a dark background which means the darkness we experience these days too. We don’t know how long this darkness will surround us. However looking at Jesus Christ shining with the glory of the Resurrection we find faith and confidence to repeat after Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God. I trust in you.’