Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! This Feast and all of Easter should elevate us into realm of supernatural life and a joy amid the world even as it is. Which got me thinking of this famous scene from Henry V.
SOLDIER: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
KING HENRY: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
The Supernatural life of Easter is like Henry’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech (note the above version is abridged). King Henry is on foreign soil and vastly outnumbered, but he cares not. Actually he is happy – and would not want it any other way. Further, he corrects his cousin for wanting more men from England for the fight. Henry says that being so outnumbered they’ll be remembered for their valor and those back at home in their beds who one day hear of their deeds will wish they had fought with them at Henry’s side, for their manhood was not so preciously earned as those who bled on St. Crispin’s Day.
This is not St. Crispin’s Day – it is Divine Mercy Sunday, and while as Christians are outnumbered in the world, and persecutions threaten the Church from different directions – it has always been a challenge to speak of Christ and to do great things for Christ – and it has always seemed foolish to be a fool for Christ like St. Paul, but we should not wish it were any other way, for then we still must depend on Him for something and if we depend on Him we shall begin to live the Supernatural life of Easter!
We see the supernatural life beginning in the Upper Room with ten of the Apostles. Now, if you are looking for that peace from Christ – go to your inner room, shut the door, and pray to God in secret – like these Apostles. Notice there were only ten – Judas was lost and Thomas was missing. So it is very interesting that Jesus says, “Peace.” “Peace” means wholeness, fullness, completeness – and Jesus makes them whole even without being at their full number. How many of us have families that seem damaged – they are not complete as we would like them to be…Not everyone is around the table and some have chosen to be away physically or spiritually. Jesus says Peace. Then Christ shows them His hands and His side and it is written, “They rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” I think that might be the biggest understatement of their lives. They rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Rejoice they did for so many reasons.
We can receive the supernatural life of Easter today – even if it seems we are the only ones in our families who care. The proper response to this peace is to rejoice! Notice, the Apostles only rejoice after it mentions Jesus showing them His wounds. We rejoice because these wounds show us that Jesus is still a man even though He is God, and that His flesh lives on after death and He calls us to the same future. And even more importantly, His wounds show us how much He loves us – and they show His mercy. Why? Well, until He reveals His wounds to us – we and the Apostles all know that we have sinned against Jesus – we were not there for Him in His hour. Until He shows us the wounds we might think, yes, He’s back – but there’s this elephant in the room that is my sin. Eventually, He may really come down on me for that. No, Jesus shows His wounds right from the beginning – Yes, you wounded me, and yes here is my peace. I choose you.
Henry V is so inspiring because he believes so strongly in his victory without seeing any good earthly reason to believe. I remember a vocation director coming to Kenrick and recounting his story. He said, “One day when I was about 11 years old I was pedaling my bike down this flat country road when the sky grew dark and clouds appeared overhead and I heard this voice: Bill, become my priest.” We’re all sitting there like, “Whoah.” And he says, “Not! Of course not, that’s not how vocations happen.” And then he told his real vocation story. But, in my head I remembered another priest who when I was ten years old I heard tell his vocation story and he really did hear a voice from God in his room. And I remember telling God/telling myself that if He wanted me, then He could speak to me in the same way. God never spoke to me in that way, and yet I am so glad I paid attention to the other things happening in my life – that I didn’t wait God out, but I believed without having to put Him so much to the test.
When we meet with Thomas in our lives – with those people who contradict our faith so boldly we should be glad – that God has given us something to do! He has given us someone to love. Thomas had not been slighted – he had missed the opportunity to be the first one to believe without seeing. But even in his failure, Thomas allows the apostles to forgive him. They must have otherwise he would not be with them when Christ comes the second time.
There’s a famous painting by Caravaggio of Christ and St. Thomas. Christ’s hand is actually holding onto Thomas hand and putting his outstretched finger into the wound in His side. Thomas does not seem so comfortable, but because Christ continues to bear His wounds – His mercy is there for us even after we sin even after the Resurrection. The Supernatural life of heaven is strong stuff! Jesus does not say to us, “Oh, the world is pretty bad out there, but let’s just try go and make the best of it.” No, He says “”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Henry V is based on a true story – and his army ended up winning despite being vastly outnumbered. And St. Thomas – did you know that he is believed to have traveled farther with the Gospel of Christ than any other apostle. All the way to the coast of India and there are Catholics there who claim that they come from his endeavors. Let us be filled to the brim with the Supernatural Life of Easter and believe in love and believe in unseen love and believe in love that will yet be seen.