Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of St. John 20:19-31
Easter night. Behind locked doors of the upper room, the apostles huddle together, fearful that what happened to Jesus will happen to them, too.

Suddenly, Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you.” To calm their fears and confusion, Jesus lovingly brings them peace, mercy and promises he’ll be with them always. He shows them the wounds in his hands and side. Seeing Jesus, the apostles are joyful.

Jesus says again, “Peace be with you.” He immediately empowers the apostles to carry on his work – to forgive sins and to share his forgiveness, mercy, peace and love with all people. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they will spread the Good News.

The apostle Thomas was absent when Jesus appeared. The others tell him, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas will not believe without seeing Jesus for himself.

A week later, although the doors are locked, Jesus again appears to the apostles, including Thomas. For a third time Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” With merciful love for Thomas, Jesus tells him, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas adoringly responds, “My Lord and My God!” With the other apostles, Thomas will faithfully go on to spread the Good News.

The Easter season lasts for 50 days from Easter Sunday through Pentecost, detailing all that happened after Jesus’ Resurrection and his time with the apostles

For us, as disciples of Jesus, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy challenge us to show Jesus’ merciful love to others. They are ways we proclaim the Good News.

Today in Rome Pope John Paul II will be beatified and will now be known as Blessed John Paul II, one step away from canonization and sainthood in the church.

Blessed John Paul II was a model disciple, a lifelong and steadfast teacher who proclaimed the Good News and who, through words and example, challenged everyone to strive for holiness by living the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love.