Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all!
Second Sunday of Easter – Cycle A
April 22-23, 2017,
Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Peter 1: 3-9, John 20: 19-31
Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast was established by Pope St. John Paul II seventeen years ago when he proclaimed that the Second Sunday of Easter would be Divine Mercy Sunday. So today, we reflect on God’s infinite mercy, a divine mercy that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A heart that heals, forgives, strengthens, and brings us peace.
Our world today stands in need of God’s Divine Mercy. It stands in need of healing, forgiveness, faith and peace. Yet what does the world have to say about mercy? What would the world have us believe about forgiveness? Here are some examples of what we hear.
“The sick are numerous and growing in number. We no longer are able to heal them all, or provide necessary medical care to them. There isn’t the political will or the necessary resources to do so. There are too many of them and we cannot afford to heal them all.”
And, “To forgive your enemy will be seen as a weakness, and vulnerability. If you have been wronged, fight back to protect yourself and your rights!”
And, “The joy and peace that Christianity promises to the merciful is naïve. The only rational response to the reality of this world is anxiety, seriousness, and a dour mood.”
Yes, these are the messages of the world. None of them convey mercy to us or those we are called to serve. These are not new messages. They are the very same messages that the first Christians heard from the Roman world. These are the messages that the Apostles heard after Jesus’ death. Their world and ours are not all that different.
So, what does Jesus say to us? The heart of Jesus, the divine mercy of God, gives us a message that is very different from the message of the world.
Jesus says: “The sick are numerous and they are my body. You will find peace and freedom in serving them. I will give you everything you need to serve them well.”
Jesus says: “There is great power and authority in forgiveness. Forgive those who harm you and pray for them.”
Jesus says: “Your faith in me and in the Church is ancient, yet forever new. Behold! I am sending forth my Spirit to renew the face of the earth. Have no other god but the one true God.”
Jesus says: “To those who are mature in faith, filled with hope, and fervent in love, I will give a peace and joy that is beyond understanding.”
In what will we put our faith – in the messages of the world, or those of Jesus? What can we do? Our Gospel reading today gives us some clues as to how to begin showing God’s mercy, and receiving it ourselves. What did the Gospel say?
We must approach the merciful heart of Jesus. We must approach that heart very closely. We must approach the Sacred Heart as closely as the Apostles approached it, as Thomas approached it. Thomas gets a bad rap often in our thinking. We call him the “doubting Thomas.” I think there is another way of thinking about him, and the Gospel reading we heard today. Thomas needed, wanted, to get very close to Jesus because he knew he needed mercy. He knew he had to approach Jesus closely enough to:
Be breathed upon by him; Touch his hands and his side; Touch his wounds; Hear his voice.
God’s mercy is not something experienced in the abstract. It is not something that is just a nice thought or an ideal. It is something very real, very tangible, very human as well as divine. We are called to show that mercy and to experience that mercy in our world as we find it. The Apostles went forth and preached the Gospel with fervor. They announced the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ who gave himself for our salvation and rose from the dead. They went forth with trust and confidence, and hundreds were healed; thousands were converted.
We too can go forth and do what they did. God’s love is stronger than death and his mercy is greater than sin. But we must go forth, as Pope Francis tells us, we must go to the peripheries of our world and approach the needy, approach them in a very close way. Close enough to feel their breath upon us, close enough for us to touch their hands and feet, to touch their wounds, to hear their voices. Our mercy must be tangible and real.
The Scriptures tell us, “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6; Mt 9: 13, 12:7)
Yes, our God’s love is revealed in his mercy and it is our duty to put this mercy and love into practice. We must approach Jesus very closely, not only in prayer, but also in serving the needy among us who are the body of Christ, who carry the wounds of Christ.
Let us fix our gaze on our Risen Lord and pray, “Jesus, I trust in you!” Let us draw near to the Sacred Heart of Jesus overflowing with divine mercy, for us, and for the entire world.