In the movie, “The Godfather,” after the violent death of his son Sonny Corleone, Don Vito Corleone is looking at his son in the mortuary and he says, “Look at how they massacred my boy.” He draws attention to the wounded body of his son because it is a testament to the violent world that the family lives in. Witnessing the wounds of the son is a prelude to the vengeance that Don Corleone will exact in a search for justice. Today in our gospel we are told that Jesus showed the apostles the wounds in his hands and his side. You can imagine that God the Father might have said something similar to what Don Corleone said. The wounds in the body of Jesus are also a testament to a violent world, made violent by the scourge of sin. However, with God the Father, the testament of his Son’s wounds is not a prelude to justice but to mercy. God does not choose vengeance for his son, he chooses mercy and forgiveness.
To look into the wounded, pierced side of Jesus is to look into his Sacred Heart of love. In his wounded side we see a heart that is pierced for love, a heart that is a testament to the Divine Mercy of the Father. The wounded heart of Jesus has suffered in love and has been sacrificed to put an end to the violence of sin and death. In the icon of the Divine Mercy we see the two rays of God’s mercy that emanate from the heart of Jesus and his wounded side. The two rays represent the sacramental mercy of the blood and water, the graces available in the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. The heart of Jesus is a font of mercy for those who are in need of healing and new life. Jesus has suffered the wounds of sin for us and is familiar with our own human sufferings. He is able to be compassionate in our wounded nature because he has borne those wounds in his own human nature. The two rays also represent the sacrifice of the cross and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. True peace as a gift from God will only be found on this path of the cross and new life in the Spirit of God. God makes available the gift of peace through the sacrifice of the cross and the gift of new life in the Spirit. St. Pope John Paul II emphasized this gift in his homily on the Canonization of Sr. Faustina: “Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: “My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified”, Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love’s “second name” (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?”
God’s Divine Mercy which is poured out upon the world through the heart of Jesus is a gift of hope, mercy and new life for the entire world. St. Pope John Paul II speaks of this gift for humanity: “However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of fraternal unity.”
As we look upon the wounds of Jesus we must offer our own woundedness in love for the healing of our world today: “It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!… It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.”
Mercy is an ancient path that we must take up anew in our work of evangelization and we must show the world again the precious wounds of our Risen Lord. We must renew our faith in God’s mercy and continue the works of mercy that our Lord has called us to as the Church of our Risen Lord.