Still, it seems to me, it is the resurrection of Christ that proves our faith is not in vain. Easter tells us that nothing --- not sin, pain, suffering or even death --- is stronger than the love of God. Christmas tells us that God entered our world in person, but Easter assures us that God decided to stay forever, even after experiencing the very worst betrayal and cruelty that humans could muster.Regardless of which holy day holds more sway in our culture, today we celebrate the event that that has given hope and empowered people to renew their lives for centuries. The resurrection of Jesus Christ opened a new way for human beings to relate to God --- free from fear or shame. Centuries later we are still struggling to learn how to fully experience and enjoy this new reality. It seems like it should be easy to accept God’s forgiveness and live our lives without anxiety or insecurity of any kind. I mean, if we know that God loves us, and that God’s love is stronger than death, what is there to worry about? God came into our world and decided to stay forever. God comes into our lives and decides to stay forever. This is the liberating good news of the Gospel. Sometimes, I guess, good news is hard to accept or believe. Maybe our problem is that we are more easily swayed by the bad news that surrounds us. There is certainly plenty to be heard --- the stock market is down, savings are lost, the financial system is in turmoil, the world is rife with conflict. The list goes on and on. Then there is the personal bad news that can afflict us --- lost relationships, family strife, struggling parents and children. Yet in the midst of the frightening events in our world and our lives, we are reminded today that God is more powerful than all of these things. Even better, this all-powerful God loves us in spite of our infidelities and misdeeds --- even to the point of dying for a broken world. No, we don’t get presents at Easter. Instead, we celebrate the ultimate source of our serenity and security as Christians. While Christmas brought us the promise of God’s unconditional love, Easter fulfills this promise. By accepting this gift we have the chance to live free of fear and guilt. Easter also challenges us to reflect this wonderful gift in our lives, and to share God’s unconditional love with others. Divine Mercy Sunday“I’ll believe it when I see it.” This is a common expression we either say or think when something seems too good to be true. We’re used to being told that some things need to be seen to be believed. In the song “Walk On” by U2, the lyrics read, “You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been. A place that has to be believed to be seen.”I thought about this song when reading today’s Gospel about Thomas --- perhaps history’s greatest example of incredulity. When the other disciples tell Thomas that they have seen the risen Christ, Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is still alive. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,” Thomas says, “and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” There you have it.While Thomas has justly earned the nickname “Doubting Thomas,” I think it would be more reasonable to call him “Honest Thomas.” While he may have his doubts, he also states exactly what will convince him that Jesus lives. When Jesus returns again and shows Thomas his hands and side, Thomas makes good on his end of the bargain and declares, “My Lord and my God.”I applaud Thomas’ honesty because I know in my own life I am more likely to say that I have faith in Christ and act like I don’t than I am to honestly admit my inability to believe. Jesus doesn’t seem bothered by Thomas’ reluctance to believe what the others tell him, and swiftly meets Thomas’ requirements.Today is named Divine Mercy Sunday, and the story of Thomas certainly highlights the mercy Jesus shows his followers. While we may tend to focus on Thomas and his doubts, the reality is that all of Jesus’ followers abandoned him at his trial and crucifixion, and Jesus returns to them and imparts the Holy Spirit to them. "Receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus says. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus not only forgives the disciples, but empowers and commissions them to share his compassion with others.Mercy may be something that needs to be believed in order to be seen. You cannot accept compassion unless you believe you need it. If we don’t feel that we are in need of God’s forgiveness, we will not accept it, nor will we be inclined to share it with others. Thomas believed once he saw and touched the risen Christ. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Perhaps honesty about what we don’t believe is a form of faith; it is a declaration of our need for more contact with God. It is, if such a thing is possible, a prayer of doubt. It is a way of believing that leads to seeing.Most of us will not have the opportunity to physically see or touch Jesus the man. But we do have the opportunity to believe in Divine Mercy, and to ask of it if we cannot see it. Today’s celebration tells us that if we believe in God’s grace in this manner, we just might see it.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected]: Our all-powerful God loves us in spite of our infidelities and misdeeds --- even to the point of dying for a broken world.Photo: Peatman-Mercy in CNS/Tidings 04-10:A depiction of St. Faustina Kowalska and Jesus, who entrusted his message of Divine Mercy to the Polish nun, hangs at the canonization Mass for St. Faustina April 30, 2000 at the Vatican. CNS/CATHOLIC PRESS PHOTO