Second Sunday of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday
Gospel of John 20:19-31
Today, the Second Sunday of Easter, was declared by the Holy Church on May 5, 2000, to henceforth be ever known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Today’s Gospel, read every Second Sunday of Easter, describes the event during which Jesus entrusted to the Church his authority to forgive sins. We also read about the Apostle Thomas, the one who doubted, and learn that everyone, including the Apostles, are in need of God’s mercy.
I was in high school, a junior I think, and I was driving back to school after lunch. I came to an intersection and the vehicle I was driving suddenly lost traction (it was mid-January in Wyoming and the road conditions were icy) and slid into the intersection colliding with another vehicle. No one was physically injured in the accident; not me, the passenger riding with me, or the old man driving the 1972 Jeep J-series pickup…it was pink. Not bright pink, but like red paint sprayed over gray primer pink…and it was smooshed. The vehicle I was driving, a 1984 Ford F-150, 4×4, two-toned blue, pickup with a white topper shell had sustained significant damage to the grill, front bumper, and left front quarter panel; so much so that it was impossible to open the driver’s side door. I vividly remember this day and the damage to this pick up, because it was my dad’s pickup, and I was “technically” not supposed to be driving it.
My dad worked out of town during the week and his company supplied him with a “work truck.” His work truck had tool boxes, fuel tanks, and was primarily used for work. His personal truck, the 1984 Ford F-150, 4×4, two-toned blue, pickup with a white topper shell was not used for work. In fact, this truck was not to be used for anything other than, of course, for whatever my father wanted to use it.
The concepts of ownership and authority made sense to me at that time… I am sure… because I had spent the two previous summers working to earn enough money in order purchase my very first car; a 1981 Mid-Night Blue Ford Mustang. A car, by-the-way, which at the time of this incident was safely parked in the driveway of my father’s house because, “Mustang’s aren’t that good in the snow and the pick-up had 4-wheel drive.”
So, like I said, the concepts of ownership, authority, respect, and the common courtesy of asking someone’s permission before borrowing their stuff had to have been concepts that I understood and practiced, even at the age of seventeen. But on that day, they weren’t and I didn’t. I borrowed my dad’s pickup without his permission. I denied his authority, disobeyed his rule, and rationalized and justified why it was perfectly ok for me to do the wrong thing.
The accident, I remind you occurred on a school day, during lunch, and I had to go back to school. I managed to get the damaged pickup back to my father’s home, where I parked it in the garage, and then got into my car and drove back to school. Thinking that I had at least two days to prepare for the return of my father I went back to school relatively confident that I had a couple days before I would receive consequences for my disobedience… and, at the very least, I had a good story to tell.
Later that evening… as I drove up to the house, late because I had basketball practice, and it was dark, very dark, I noticed my father’s work truck sitting in the driveway. I got out of my car and through the kitchen window I saw my father, still wearing his work clothes, sitting at the kitchen table talking to my mother. It was at that moment I seriously considered running away and joining the carnival. I was convinced that whatever fate, fortune, or failure that awaited me as a carney would be far better than whatever was waiting for me on the other side of that door.
I want to be clear. My father is not, nor was he ever, an abusive man. The dread and apprehension that I felt that evening was not a result of the fear of my father; rather, it was because I knew I had disappointed him. I had disobeyed him, taken his hard-work for granted, and denied his authority. In essence, much like Thomas, I denied the position and authority of my father, and acted upon the belief that my own set of rules and perceptions of the world in which I lived, were all that mattered.
I walked into the house, put my basketball stuff away, came back into the kitchen where my parents were still sitting, and stood looking down at the linoleum floor. My father, standing up from his chair, said, “Well, should we go out and look at it?” I nodded and followed my father out the door.
Our garage sits on the back of the property and it is about a 25’ walk from the back porch of the house to the door of the garage. It was a quiet walk for there was no need to say anything. We both knew why we were out there. We got to the garage, turned on the light, and I promise you that somebody must have entered that garage while I was at school and beat that truck with a sledge hammer. Because that 1984 Ford F-150, 4×4, two-toned blue pickup with a white topper shell looked way worse than it did when I parked it 6 hours earlier. I didn’t say anything.
My father, still looking at his damaged pickup, asked, “Nobody got hurt…right?”.
“Yeah.” I answered, “Nobody got hurt.”
We stood there for a few minutes looking at the damage caused and the words I had spoken earlier that day came to my mind as if they were being played over the radio of that 1984 Ford F-150, two-toned blue pickup with a white topper shell. In that period of silence, I heard the rationalizations and justifications that perpetuated my disobedience.
My father then sighed which caused me to come back to reality, and for the first time that evening I looked my father in his eyes, and he said, “Let’s go back inside and have dinner.” He added, “You will get that to the body shop tomorrow, so we can get an estimate.” I told him I would, and I followed him back to the house.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today, the Second Sunday of Easter, is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.