When engaging our parish grade-school children in a conversation about the resurrection, I solicited a volunteer. Eight-year-old Francis excitedly raised his hand and quickly climbed the steps to the altar area. “So, Francis, if Jesus came walking down the street today, how would you recognize Him?” Without skipping a beat Francis remarked, “By the marks on his hands.” I was astonished.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read of the early disciples’ first encounter with the Risen Lord. On the first day of the week, upon hearing Jesus’ voice and viewing the fresh marks—the wounds—on His hands and side, they testify, “We have seen the Lord!” Jesus forever carries the marks of mercy. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we celebrate God’s infinite mercy shown on the cross. When others witness God’s mercy working through us, especially during this pandemic, they too will exclaim, “We have seen the Lord!”
The nurse, a mask imprinted into her forehead, risking her life by staying with the dying man—forever seared with a surgical scar.
The paramedic, on the front line of this crisis, entering any situation to respond with life-saving measures—forever bearing a battle mark.
The young woman, working long hours in the nursing home, bathing and comforting residents—forever marked with the healing wounds of mercy.
Most often, Christians bear marks of mercy by laying down their lives in ordinary ways: the spouse working late to pay the bills; the parent spending focused time with the child at home; the friend dropping off groceries; the family buying essentials for the shelter; the adult child caring for his aging parent. Children recognize the Risen Lord when they see the marks of mercy through the sacrifices of their parents and grandparents.
My mother’s hands, gnarled through arthritis, suffered from her knuckles, swollen like knots in a tree. Though I sometimes caught her massaging her aching fingers, she never complained as she continued to serve family and friends—her hands marked with mercy. Surgical scars, battle marks, healing wounds—all marks of mercy—all signs of the Risen Lord. When I serve as an Eucharistic minister, I see the beauty of the weathered, worn, and warped hands raised to receive Jesus, and I recognize the Risen Lord!
I was not the least bit surprised by Francis’ answer, as his mother’s hands bear the marks of mercy from feeding her large brood, washing her elderly father’s feet, sneaking banana bread to friends, and delivering meals on wheels. Barb’s side bears a mark of mercy as she slept at the foot of her sick daughter’s crib for an entire year. To know Barb is to see the Risen Lord, for she bears His marks of mercy. When we carry marks of mercy into the world, others will see Christ and proclaim, “My Lord and my God.” Now, that’s good news!
Where have you seen the marks of mercy during this pandemic?
How will you be mercy to another?
Adapted from the 2017 Naming Grace in the Domestic Church column in the Witness of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To contact Mary about her reflections, to chat, or to inquire about a speaking engagement: www.mary pedersen.com
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.