Introduction The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, in sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord through His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, instituted to sanctify us.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Acts, stresses the corporal acts of mercy practiced by the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans started persecuting them. Practicing the sharing love, compassion and the mercy of God as Jesus taught, this witnessing community derived its strength from community prayer, “the Breaking of the Bread” and the apostles’ teaching read at the worship service. The second reading: taken from John’s first Letter, deals with practicing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy by obeying God’s Old Testament commandments and focusing on Jesus’ commandment of loving others as He loves us, with selfless, sacrificial, agape love. Loving others as Jesus loves us also demands that we treat others with God’s mercy and compassion. Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord gave his apostles the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:19-23). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28), the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed Divine mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment. 2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service. The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer. c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
EASTER II [B] (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY) (April 11, 2021)
(Acts 4:32-35, I John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31)
Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Mercy during tragedy: The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died. After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children. After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children. Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. (Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
# 2: Divine Mercy in action: A TIME magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a blue turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet had torn into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed. (http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0308.asp) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
# 3: St. Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy: St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April 2000, at 10:00 AM, on the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast requested by Jesus in His communications with St. Faustina), His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. [John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day – April 27 in 2014 – by Pope Francis.] At the canonization of St. Faustina, Saint John Paul II said, “Believing in the love of God means believing in His mercy.” Saint Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, Who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God’s generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, Who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy.” “The Lord of Divine Mercy,” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with His left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, “Jesus, I trust in You!” (Jezu ufam Tobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the Blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the Baptismal water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
Introduction: The readings for this Sunday are about God’s Mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for God’s forgiveness of our sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of Mercy.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever!” (Ps 118:22-23). God revealed His mercy first and foremost by sending His only begotten Son Who, as “the stone rejected by the builders [which] has become the corner stone (Ps 118: 22),” became our Savior and Lord by his suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments.
Scripture readings summarized: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, stresses the corporal acts of mercy practiced by the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans started their persecutions. Practicing the sharing love, compassion and mercy of God as Jesus taught, this witnessing community derived its strength from community prayer, “the Breaking of the Bread,” and the apostles’ teaching, read at the worship service. The second reading, taken from John’s first Letter, deals with practicing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy by obeying God’s Old Testament Ten Commandments and focusing on Jesus’ commandment of loving others as He loves us with selfless, sacrificial, agape love. Loving others as Jesus loves us also demands that we treat others with God’s mercy and compassion. In today’s Gospel, as we recall Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles on that first Easter evening, we are vividly reminded of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – the power to forgive sins which Our Lord gave to His Apostles — “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:23). [Bishop Robert E. Barron: “Our magnificent Gospel today declares that there is no greater manifestation of the Divine mercy than the forgiveness of sins. The risen Lord appears to his disciples and greet them with “Shalom,” peace. And then the extraordinary commission: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus’ mercy is communicated to his disciples, who in turn are sent to communicate it to the world. This is the foundation for the Sacrament of Penance, which has existed in the Church from that moment to the present day as the privileged vehicle of the Divine mercy.”] Today’s Gospel also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading Presence of the Risen Lord of Mercy. To believe without having seen is every later Christian’s experience. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and hesitation by surrendering our lives to the Risen Lord of Mercy. Let us ask God our Father to open our hearts so that we may receive His Mercy in the form of the Holy Spirit. [The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC: A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world. B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that our reception of the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. From http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/]
The first reading: Acts 4:32-35 explained: St. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles gives us a summary of the life of the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans began their persecutions. We get a glimpse of Divine Mercy in action in today’s selection. The early Christians were so filled with the Holy Spirit that, “no one claimed any of his possessions as his own.” Rather, they “distributed to each according to his need.” This was a community which practiced the sharing love, compassion, and mercy taught by Jesus. It was a witnessing community of “one heart and one mind,” bearing witness to the continued presence of the Risen Lord in their hearts and lives by holding everything in common and distributing to each one according to his or her needs. In a later portion of the Acts, we learn that the early Christian community derived its strength from community prayer, from “the Breaking of the Bread,” and from listening to the teaching of the apostles. Owners of property were few among the early Christians, and the fact that they mixed lovingly at this level with the mass of common folk was astonishing. This passage implies that the Christian community was assuming the nature of a family and beginning to overcome distinctions based on wealth. Also, the authority accorded to the apostles is worthy of note. They were beginning to take on the authority formerly held by Jewish priests.
The second reading (1 John 5:1-6) explained: While the first reading from Acts, calls our attention to the corporal works of mercy, the second reading, taken from St. John’s first letter, focuses on both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. John urges our obedience to the commandments given by God, especially the commandment of love as clarified by Jesus. Loving others as Jesus loves us demands that we treat others with Jesus’ mercy and compassion. John reminds us that everyone who claims to love God, especially one who believes that Jesus is the Christ, has to love all the others whom God has created. We are to conquer the world by putting our Faith in Jesus and in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, two sacraments of Divine Mercy that Jesus instituted. The “water” refers to Jesus’ baptism, at the beginning of his ministry. The “blood” refers to Jesus’ bloody death at the end of his ministry. Both refer to the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Gospel exegesis: Today’s Gospel: The first part of today’s Gospel (verses 19-23), describes how Jesus entrusted to his apostles his mission of preaching the “Good News” of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. This portion of the reading teaches us that Jesus uses the Church as the earthly means of continuing His mission. It also teaches us that the Church needs Jesus as its source of power and authority, and that it becomes Christ’s true messenger only when it perfectly loves and obeys Him. The Risen Lord gives the apostles the authority to forgive sins in His Name. He gives the apostles the power of imparting God’s mercy to the sinner, the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy, in both the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the liturgy, the Church has proclaimed the mercy of God for centuries through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel text also reminds us that the clearest way of expressing our belief in the presence of the Risen Jesus among us is through our own forgiveness of others. We can’t form a lasting Christian community without such forgiveness. Unless we forgive others, our celebration of the Eucharist is just an exercise in liturgical rubrics.
The second part of the Gospel (verses 24-29), presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas in his uncompromising honesty demanding a personal vision of, and physical contact with, the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas had not been with the Apostles when Jesus first appeared to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” The story of Thomas highlights the importance of signs (as we have seen all along in John), but also their limitations in terms of bringing people to Faith. Interestingly, there is never a mention of Thomas touching Jesus’ wounds as he had said he needed to do; his encounter with the risen Lord was, apparently, sufficient to bring him to Faith. Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus. Modern Christians, who are no longer able to “see” Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. That is why Paul reminds us, “Faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17). “This Gospel shows us that Faith comes in different ways to different people. The beloved disciple believes upon seeing the empty tomb (v. 8). Mary believes when the Lord calls her name (v. 16). the disciples must see the risen Lord (v. 20). Thomas says that he must touch the wounds (v. 25)—although that need evaporates once he sees the risen Christ (v. 28). People find various routes to faith.” (www.lectionary.org). Thomas uses the mind God has given him and says that he must have some proof before he can believe this incredible claim. Christian Faith is not just a mindless assent to certain beliefs without thinking—it has a solid basis in rationality, and this effort to explain and understand such claims is the basis of theological exploration, and of Christian philosophy (Dr. Murray).
The unique profession of Faith: Thomas, the “doubting” apostle, makes the great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). Thomas confesses Jesus in the very words (“My Lord and my God”) used by the Psalmist for Yahweh. According to Raymond Brown, Thomas’ profession of Faith is the ultimate Christological proclamation of the fourth gospel. “My Lord (Kyrios) and my God (Theos)” revealed the late first century church’s realization that Jesus was equal to and One with the Eternal Creator of the universe and of all humankind. Here, the most outrageous doubter of the Resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of belief in the Lord Who rose from the dead. This declaration by the “doubting” Thomas in today’s Gospel is very significant for two reasons. 1) It is the foundation of our Christian Faith. Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Jesus as proved by His miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. Thomas’ profession of Faith is the strongest evidence we have of the Resurrection of Jesus. 2) Thomas’ Faith culminated in his self-surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52, his fearless preaching, and the powerful testimony given by his martyrdom in A.D. 72. When the Portuguese landed in India in the early 1600s, they found a group of Christians there—the Mar Thoma Church, established through Thomas’ preaching a millennium and a half before.
Life messages: 1) Let us accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy. One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive Divine Mercy. The Gospel command, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” demands that we show mercy to our fellow human beings always and everywhere. We radiate God’s mercy to others by our actions, our words, and our prayers. It is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.
2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the Risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service (“Faith without good works is dead” Jas 2:17). It was this Faith in the Lord and obedience to His missionary command that prompted St. Thomas to travel to India to preach the Gospel among the Hindus, to establish seven Christian communities (known later as “St. Thomas Christians”), and eventually to suffer martyrdom. The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic Faith of St. Thomas the Apostle. a) We must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) We must strengthen our Faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through our personal and community prayer. c) We must share in the Divine life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
3) We need to meet the challenge for a transparent Christian life — “I will not believe unless I see” (Jn 20:25). This “seeing” is what others demand of us. They ask that we reflect Jesus, the Risen Lord, in our lives by our selfless love, unconditional forgiveness, and humble service. The integrity of our lives bears a fundamental witness to others who want to see the Risen Lord, alive and active, working in us. Christ’s mercy shines forth from us whenever we reach out to the poor, the needy and the marginalized, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) did. His mercy shines forth as we remain open to those who struggle in Faith, as did the Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel. We should be able to appreciate the presence of Jesus, crucified and raised, in our own suffering and in our suffering brothers and sisters, thus recognizing the glorified wounds of the Risen Lord in the suffering of others.
4) Like St. Thomas, let us use our skepticism to help us grow in Faith. It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and, thus, to grow in our Faith. This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments. However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing but is a gift from God. Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).
5) Let us have the courage of our Christian convictions to share our Faith as St. Thomas did. We are not to keep the gift of Faith locked in our hearts, but to share it with our children, our families and our neighbors, always remembering the words of Pope St. John XXIII: “Every believer in this world must become a spark of Christ’s light.”
JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) Traffic cop’s mercy: A priest was forced by a police officer to pull over for speeding. As the officer was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). The police officer handed the priest the ticket, and said, “Go, and sin no more” \
2) Photographer’s mercy: The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man’s studio and screamed at him: “This picture does not do me justice!” The photographer replied, “Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!”
3) Mercy of Sisters of Mercy: There is a joke about the payment of a bill at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital. A man was brought to Mercy Hospital for surgery. The operation went well. The sister waiting by his bed said to the man, “You’re going to be just fine,” and asked him, “We want to know how you intend to pay for your stay here. Are you covered by insurance?” He whispered, “No, I’m not.” The sister asked, “Can you pay in cash?” He replied, “I’m afraid I can’t, Sister.” She continued, “Do you have any close relatives, then?” The patient replied, “Just my sister in New Mexico, but she’s a spinster nun.” The sister said, “Nuns are not spinsters, Mr. Smith. They are married to Jesus.” The man said with a smile, “Okay, then send the bill to Jesus, my brother-in-law.”
Divine Mercy Official websites:
5) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:
10) Good news Ministries: http://gnm.org/
22 Additional anecdotes:
1a) Sister Faustina Kowalska was an ordinary nun who did the duties of a cook, doorkeeper, and gardener. Born in Glogowiec, Poland, in 1905, she had only three years of formal education. As a teenager, she worked as a domestic servant for a few years. Then in 1925, she joined the religious congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Sister Faustina lived only 13 years as a nun. She died of tuberculosis on October 5, 1938, at the age of 33. However, pretty soon, she began to be known all over the world as she had been chosen by the Lord Jesus to spread the message of Divine Mercy. According to her Diary, Jesus appeared to her several times between 1930 to 1938. During these apparitions, Jesus asked her to remind the world about the merciful love of God toward everyone. Jesus also gave her a chaplet to be said every day. At night on Sunday, February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart. During that time, Jesus said to her, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (in Polish: Jezu, ufam Tobie). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” Accordingly, she got such an image painted by an artist under her direction. Sister Faustina also heard the Lord telling her to dedicate a feast day to the Divine Mercy. It was in the context of this request of the Lord that the Church, through a decree dated May 23, 2000, instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter. Pope John Paul II beatified Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993. On the following day, he said during a general audience, “God has spoken to us through the spiritual wealth of Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska. She left to the world the great message of Divine Mercy and an incentive to complete self-sacrifice to the Creator.” John Paul II canonized Sr. Fausitna on April 30, 2000, the first Sunday of Easter. According to the Diary of Sr. Faustina, Jesus said the following regarding the Feast of Divine Mercy: “Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” As we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy this weekend, let us approach the Lord and ask him for the forgiveness of all our sins. May the Lord bless all of us. (Fr. Jose CMI)
1b: “Law vs Mercy” In Reader’s Digest, Jim Williams of Montana, writes: “I was driving too fast late one night when I saw the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over and rolled down my window of my station wagon, I tried to dream up an excuse for my haste. But when the patrolman reached the car, he said nothing. Instead, he merely shined his flashlight in my face, then on my seven-month-old in his car seat, then on our three other children, who were asleep, and lastly on the two dogs in the very back of the car. Returning the beam of light to my face, he then uttered the only words of the encounter. “’Son,’ he said, ‘you can’t afford a ticket. Slow down.’” And with that, he returned to his car and drove away.” — Sometimes mercy triumphs over law. So it is for sinners who call out to Jesus.” (Sent by Fr. firstname.lastname@example.org on March 1, 2013) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
2) Divine mercy experience of Rev. Fr. James Alberione. The founder of the religious congregation to which I belong is Rev. Fr. James Alberione. A holy man with a prophetic vision, he harnessed the pastoral potentiality of the modern means of communication at the service of evangelization. The Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II will beatify him today – April 27, 2003 – in Rome. Fr. Alberione founded five religious congregations, four aggregated Institutes, and the Association of Pauline Cooperators, all of which comprise the “Pauline Family.” In 1923, he was struck down with a serious illness that led him into a kind of crisis about the future of the religious family launched just a few years earlier. He needed some kind of assurance in the midst of uncertainties. He looked for confirmation in the most difficult moment of his life. The Divine Master kindheartedly obliged by appearing to him in a dream, assuring him of His Divine assistance and presence. Here is Fr. Alberione’s personal account of that awesome experience. In a particularly difficult moment, reexamining all his ways of doing things to see if there might perhaps be impediments to the action of grace on his part, it seems that the Divine Master may have wanted to reassure the Institute that had only gotten underway a few years before. In a subsequent dream, he had what seemed to him to be a reply. Jesus, the Master, in fact, said to him: “Fear not. I am with you. From here I will enlighten. Have a contrite heart.” The “from here” came forth from the tabernacle; and with power, such as to make one understand that from Him, the Master, must one receive all enlightenment. Fr. Alberione spoke of this with his spiritual director, noting in what light the figure of the Master has been enveloped. His reply to me was: “Be at peace; dream or otherwise, what was said is holy; make it a practical program of life and of light for yourself and for all members.” From that point on he became more and more oriented to and received all from the tabernacle. (Cf. Abundantes Divitiae, n. 151-155). Indeed, the experience of Blessed James Alberione, a “true missionary of the Church” and a modern apostle for our times, is similar to that of the apostle Thomas, who experienced the compassion of the saving and merciful Lord as predilection. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
3) Iranian mother saves son’s killer from hanging, with a slap of mercy and forgiveness: Tehran: An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported on Thursday. The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife in 2007. The newspaper Shargh said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathered on Tuesday morning. Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim, who had lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the onlookers whether they knew “how difficult it is to live in an empty house.” Advertisement
Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Ms Alinejad approached. She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck, assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer. “I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place … After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer,” Ms Alinejad told Shargh. “The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down. Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.” Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness”. “I’ve asked my friends not to carry knives … I wish someone had slapped me in the face when I wanted to carry one,” he said. A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures – including popular football commentator and TV show host Adel Ferdosipour and former international footballer Ali Daei – appealing for the victim’s family to forgive the killer. See the video commentary below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cwh17osBCNI
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/iranian-mother-saves-sons-killer-from-hanging-with-a-slap-20140418-zqw3f.html#ixzz300Il5O32, Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
4) “Well, then, I will have mercy.” The Emperor Napoleon was moved by a mother’s plea for pardon for her soldier son. However, the Emperor said that since it was the man’s second major offense, justice demanded death. “I do not ask for justice,” implored the mother, “I plead for mercy.” “But,” said the Emperor, “he does not deserve mercy.” “Sir,” cried the mother, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” The compassion and clarity of the mother’s logic prompted Napoleon to respond, “Well, then, I will have mercy.” — The Second Sunday of the Easter season invites us to reflect on God’s infinite love and mercy for His people, as detailed in the Bible and as lived and taught by Jesus, and to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
5) Divine Mercy and Zacharias Moussaoui. Zacharias Moussaoui was sentenced for a role in the devastating 9/11 tragedy. The Frederick News Post (Apr 14: Good Friday) reported it with the headline: “Suspect wishes pain for victims.” Wow. “‘So you would be happy to see 9/11 again,’ the prosecutor asked. Moussaoui said: ‘Every day until we get you.’ He told jurors that he has ‘no regret, no remorse,’ and was disgusted by the heart-rending testimony of victims and relatives and only wished they have suffered more.” Have you read any more tragic thoughts and wishes? When this Chaplain describes the words and actions as objectively “evil,” he means that, objectively, wanting to murder people, and to plague them with more harm and rub it into their lives is an evil thing. Subjectively, perhaps Zacharias Moussaoui is mentally deranged and not totally culpable for his words and actions. We don’t and can’t know this as a literal matter of fact. The question was raised by both defense and prosecution in his sentencing. Point: Mercy is just for such people – the free offer of God, to even the harshest of offenders, like Zacharias Moussaoui, of forgiveness and reconciliation if he chooses to accept it. We need to pray for Moussaoui that he may ask for and receive God’s pardon and love. This man and his sentiments are just one more reason why Jesus came to Earth-to save souls, even the most overtly plagued ones. (Fr. John J. Lombardi) http://www.emmitsburg.net/grotto/father_jack/2006/mercy_sunday.htm (Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.)
6) Mayor’s mercy: One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, Mayor of New York City, showed up at Night Court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. La Guardia said, “I’ve got to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail.” As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat. He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city “where an old woman had to steal bread so that her grandchildren should not starve.” The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
7) Mary Duray, Connecticut: Mary and her husband suffered the tragic loss of their son, and it was her understanding of Divine Mercy that helped her and her family forgive those that took his life during a robbery. Mary tells us how her attendance at a Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM) Divine Mercy Program helped her overcome great obstacles and allowed her to forgive and even to pray for them. Knowing that as long as there is life, there is hope, the family did not seek the death penalty for his murderers. How differently does the person filled with God’s mercy see and react to the world! (http://mercyimages.com/video_MaryDuray.php ) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
8) “What I don’t know is where I am going.” The story is told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers’ tickets, Einstein couldn’t find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; “Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I’m sure you bought a ticket.” As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. I know who you are. You don’t need a ticket, I’m sure you bought one.” Einstein arose and said, “Young man, I, too, know who I am; what I don’t know is where I am going.” And that is the Good News of Easter; that we know where we are going. We have been told by the Savior that His life and death has promised us life eternal. (Steven Molin, Elated….Deflated. Quoted by Fr. Kyala)
9) Ask for Mercy: In order to receive mercy we must ask for it and be ready to accept it. If we do not accept it sincerely we will not change our attitude towards our past life. We read in history that in 1829 George Wilson was condemned to death for robbing the mail and killing the policeman who was on the way to arrest him. President Andrew Jackson granted him a pardon but George Wilson refused to accept it. The judge said ‘Pardon is a pardon only when one accepts it. George must die’. Mercy is mercy when we accept it. We read in the life of Voltaire that he wanted to live six weeks to repent for his sins. The doctor told him he would not live six days. He died unrepentant. Having mercy at his door he refused to accept it. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
10) “The miracle over Hudson River:” A banker on a business trip in New York City, Fred Berretta had just checked into his hotel room. He had about 20 minutes downtime before he had to meet his colleagues. For some reason he decided to clean out his briefcase, something he hadn’t done in a long time. As he emptied it out, he came across a booklet he had stuffed into a pocket years ago on praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. He recalls having prayed it a few times years ago. Only two weeks prior, Fred had made a New Year’s resolution to try to get into better spiritual shape. Here in this hotel room was an opportunity to fulfill it. So, he followed along in the booklet and prayed the chaplet, a prayer our Lord gave to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, during a series of revelations that has sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement. He would be among the 155 people to board a jet airliner at LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, N.C., his hometown. It was January 15, 2009. Ninety seconds after takeoff, the jet would apparently hit a flock of geese, the engines would explode, and the plane would lose power at 3,200 feet. The aircraft would be out of reach from any airfield. It would lose thrust and altitude. Everything would become eerily quiet. Fred would cinch his seatbelt. His left hand would clutch the armrest, his heart would race, his face would be flushed. “Prepare for impact,” the pilot would say over the PA system. As the ground surged into view, Fred would look at his watch. It would be 3:30, the Hour of Great Mercy! “I prayed with every fiber of emotion and sincerity I could muster, ‘God, please be merciful to us,’” Fred would recall two weeks later. You’ve probably heard about the crash landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on Jan. 15. No one was seriously injured. Then, there were the news images of a US Airways Airbus floating gently down the frigid Hudson, like some sort of breaching, people-friendly, aquatic creature. The passengers stood on its wings, calmly awaiting rescue. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
11) We might never have learned Fred Berretta’s story if it weren’t for Vinny Flynn. Following the crash, Fred felt compelled to send an email of thanks to Vinny, the former executive editor at the Marian Helpers Center, in Stockbridge, Mass. Fred had never heard of Vinny until about two hours before he boarded Flight 1549. Following morning meetings on Jan. 15, Fred had found himself in the unusual position of having some free time on a business trip. It was noon. He stepped inside Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He stayed for the 12 p.m. Mass. Afterwards, he went into St. Patrick’s gift shop. A book caught his eye — Vinny’s 7 Secrets of the Eucharist (Mercy Song Ignatius, 2006), which, with citations from St. Faustina’s Diary, gives a greater understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist. Fred also purchased a St. Michael’s scapular. In an interview with thedivinemercy.org this week, Fred explained what happened next: “I got into a cab and went to the airport,” he said. “My flight was delayed about 15 minutes, so I sat there and started reading Vinny’s book. I was really taken by it. I boarded the plane and continued to read. Just as we were rolling out for takeoff, I put the book away and closed my eyes and began to reflect on what I had been reading. “Some of us looked at each other,” he said. “There was nothing to be said. I knew that the only thing I could do was pray.” Which is exactly what Fred did when he suddenly realized it was the Hour of Great Mercy and he would probably be dead in a matter of seconds. He trusted, truly, for the first time. All these fragments of thought seemed to piece themselves into place. The plane was going down, yet everything was making sense. He admits he was in shock. But he also felt at peace, a deep peace. God had allowed him to find the Divine Mercy booklet in his briefcase. God had steered him to Vinny’s book. God did all this, he thought, to prepare him for death. He hunched over in his seat to brace for impact. He prayed for God’s mercy. Then he prayed two Hail Marys and one Our Father. He made it halfway though a prayer to St. Michael, the archangel, when the plane hit the water, came to a stop, and bobbed up and down like a toy in a kiddy pool. (http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3493). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
12) “Sir, that is what I am afraid of.” There is a story about a soldier brought before General Robert E. Lee. Accused of misconduct, the soldier was trembling. The general said to him, “Do not be afraid, son. Here you will receive justice.” The soldier looked at the general and said, “Sir, that is what I am afraid of.” Like that soldier, Peter would have reason to tremble. Peter had boasted about his bravery, how he would always stand by Jesus. Yet when Jesus needed him most, he nodded off. Perhaps one could forgive him for falling asleep, but later – when he was wide-awake – he denied Jesus, three times, with forms of, “I do not know the man.” Some rock! In strict justice, Peter should have been punished – at the very least, removed as head of the Church. In Christ’s passion, however, a deeper justice is at work. That is what we will discover this Divine Mercy Sunday. God’s justice has a name – it is called the Divine Mercy. I invite you to return on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. These are the great days of grace – of Divine Mercy. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
13) Macbeth never had peace in his life: One of the famous tragedies of William Shakespeare is Macbeth. When Macbeth was returning after a victory, he was met by three witches. The first witch greeted him, “Thane of Glamis”. The second witch greeted him, “Thane of Cawdor”, and the third witch greeted him, “King hereafter”. As they disappeared messengers reached with the good news that he was appointed as the Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth went home and shared this strange experience with his wife. She enkindled his hopes, and persuaded him to murder Duncan, the king, who came to his house as his guest. As Macbeth thrust the dagger into the heart of Duncan he heard a voice, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep…” (II, 2:35-36). Thereafter Macbeth never had peace in his life. His life became miserable. In his frantic attempt to get peace he committed murder again and again. When Macbeth sinned against the king he lost his peace. Jesus was aware that sins destroy the peace of man. So Jesus both wished the Apostles “Peace” and granted them the power to destroy sin and so make that Peace available to all of us. . To destroy a powerful enemy we need a powerful weapon. Jesus put this weapon in the hands of the Church by communicating to the Apostles the power to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus said to the apostles: “Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
14) Uplifting One Another: Have you ever watched geese fly in V-formation? While a thing of beauty to watch, the formation is essential to the geese for survival. If you listen, you can hear the beat of their wings whistling through the air in unison. And that is the secret of their strength: the lead goose cuts a swath through the air resistance, which creates a helping uplift for the birds behind it. In turn their flapping makes it easier for the birds behind them, and so on. Each bird takes its turn at being leader. The tired ones fan out to the edges of the V for a breather, and the rested ones surge towards the point of the V to drive the flock onward. If a goose becomes too exhausted or ill and has to drop out of the flock, it is never abandoned. A stronger member of the flock will follow the failing, weak one to its resting place and wait till the bird is well enough to fly again. Together, cooperating as a flock, geese can fly at 71% longer range, with up to 60% less work. (Phillip Yancy in Benedict Arnold Seagull; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
15) Cure for Sorrow: There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?” Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.” They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them. The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?” She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. She became so involved in ministering to other people’s grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life. (Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
16) Hope for the Flowers: A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then, it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could. So the man decided to help, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. — Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. We could never fly! So God in His mercy, challenges us, giving obstacles in life. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
17) “Don’t be crying! It’s Ok! He is alive!” I remember one occasion when I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the young men in the group was mentally quite limited, although his grasp of God, of Jesus, and the events of the Gospel were uncanny. We arrived at the tomb of the basilica, and we joined the long line, waiting our turn to enter. One lady came out of the tomb, and was obviously deeply touched by the experience of her visit to such a sacred spot. She sat down outside the entrance, took out a tissue, and began wiping her tears. My friend, who was back in the line, spotted what was happening, and responded instantly. He ran straight up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Don’t be crying, it’s OK! He’s alive; don’t you know that?” The whole thing was so spontaneous and genuine that the woman stood up, and gave him a warm hug. The simple fact was that he could not understand how anybody could be crying at this tomb, of all the tombs in the world. — Jesus thanked the Father for giving a message that was so simple and straightforward that the intellectual and the worldly-wise would fail to grasp it, and yet it could be fully accepted by someone with the mind of a child. Happy are they who have not seen, yet believe. (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
18) President’s mercy: Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet — which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! — declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.) [Today in the Word (October 8, 1992); quoted by Fr. Kayala.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
19) The story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson: One of the stories of the “Forgiveness Project” that caught my attention was the story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson. Oshea had shot and killed Mary’s son – a boy Oshea didn’t even know. There was no way Oshea could pay Mary back for what he had taken from her. And Mary owed him nothing. It’s not an easy story. As Mary said, “I hated everyone for a while.” But over time Mary came to forgive Oshea. She visited him in prison. She helped him when he was released. In the process they both changed. Mary gave Oshea the one gift he needed to begin his healing: total forgiveness. Mercy doesn’t undercut justice but surprises it! It is the linchpin that supports forgiveness and compassion. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope. We might think of mercy as the grace for conversion. (Stories Seldom Heard; quoted by Sr. Patricia). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
20) Everything was held in common (First reading): The earliest Christians, says the Acts of the Apostles, were “of one heart and one mind.” They shared their possessions with each other, so that none would be in need. Some even sold their belongings and set up a fund to provide for all. This great spirit of Easter charity did not last very long, but in later years those who founded religious orders revived common ownership as a part of their religious rules. Thus, when St. Benedict wrote a rule for his monks in the sixth century, he ordered, “Let all things be common to all.” Human beings are naturally possessive. Not all of Abbot Benedict’s monks lived up to the ideal of personal poverty. Once a monk of his monastery gave a spiritual talk at a nearby convent of nuns. To express their thanks, the nuns gave him a few handkerchiefs. Although the rule said that no monk should use anything he had not received through the Abbot, this monk decided he would keep the little gift as his own without mentioning it to his superior. He simply tucked the handkerchiefs in his habit. He did not get away with it. When he returned to the monastery, Benedict scolded him: “How is it that evil has found its way into your heart?” The monk was puzzled, for he had already forgotten the handkerchiefs. But the misdeed had been revealed to Benedict. “Was I not present, he said, when you accepted those handkerchiefs?” The wayward monk at once knelt before the saint, begged his forgiveness, and handed over the compromising gift. — Holy Communion as practiced in the earliest Church and in the religious orders was not something commanded by God; it was something embraced by loving choice. Is there indeed a better way of showing love for neighbor? Or of showing total trust that God our Father will provide? “…The community of believers were of one — Today’s first reading. Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
21) St. Thomas’ way of experiencing God: Fr. Mark Link, SJ in his homily book, Illustrated Sunday Homilies Year B, offers a scenario: “You are called up to the lectern and blindfolded and a bucket full of water is placed in front of you; then, you are asked if the bucket is empty or full.” Then he asks a question: “What are the ways you can learn the answer such inquiry without removing the blindfold?” Fr. Link said that there are three ways we can learn to answer such question: One way is to reach into the bucket and feel if there is water in it. In other words, you can experience firsthand if the bucket is full or empty. This way of learning is called experiencing; it is knowledge that our senses give us. The second way of learning if the bucket has water or has none is to drop an object like a coin, into it. If the object hits the bottom of the bucket with a loud or ringing sound, you know the bucket is empty. On the other hand, if the object hits with a slurp or a splash, you know the bucket contains water. This way of acquiring knowledge is called reasoning. A third way to learn if the bucket contains water is to ask someone you trust. The person could look into the bucket and tell you if it has water in it. This way of learning is called believing. It’s knowledge that we acquire by Faith. But of the three ways of acquiring knowledge, that is, by experiencing, reasoning and believing, by which way do we obtain most of our knowledge? Is it by experiencing, by reasoning or by believing? If we said believing, then you and I are correct, according to some experts, who estimate that we acquire as much as 80 percent of our knowledge in this way. For example, Fr. Link continued, few of us have travelled around the world. The only way we know about most countries is by what others tells us. We are told in today’s words; we trust the people who have been there. If they tell us there is a country called China and that its people do this or do that, we believe them. — Today’s Gospel describes how St. Thomas the apostle chose the way of experiencing the Risen Lord by touching him. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
22) Was the early Church a “Potemkin village?” During the reign of Empress Catherine II, Gregory Aleksandrovich Potemkin was the Commander-in-Chief and Governor General of “New Russia“ (the southern Ukraine). After he had successfully defended Russia’s southern borders against the Turks and colonized the Ukrainian steppes, Potemkin conducted the Empress on a grand victory tour. His policy of disguising all the weak points in his administration and camouflaging his failures gave rise to the apocryphal tale that he had erected artificial villages to be seen by the empress in passing. Hence the term “Potemkin village” came to denote any pretentious façade designed to cover up a shabby or undesirable condition. — But Luke’s portrait of the early Church’s harmony, agape love and sharing was a reality, the effect of the believers’ trusting in the Divine Mercy of the Risen Lord on their behavior. The early Church’s mutual sharing and care for the needy also reflectedc the Deuteronomist who promised, “When the Lord God blesses you in your land, there will be no needy person among you” (Dt 15:4). (Adapted from Sanchez Files). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.(L-21)
Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No. 26) by Fr. Tony: email@example.com
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604
Pope: “Having received mercy, let us now become merciful” (2021 message)
On the feast of Divine Mercy on Sunday, Pope Francis urges Christians to open themselves to Christ’s mercy, which He grants through peace, forgiveness, and His wounds. In turn, they are asked to share this mercy with others.
By Robin Gomes
“Let us be renewed by the peace, forgiveness, and wounds of the merciful Jesus. Let us ask for the grace to become witnesses of mercy. Only in this way will our faith be alive and our lives unified. Only in this way will we proclaim the Gospel of God, which is the Gospel of mercy.” This is the exhortation that Pope Francis offered in his homily at Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, which is celebrated on the second Sunday of Easter.
“For if love is only about us, faith becomes arid, barren and sentimental. Without others, faith becomes disembodied. Without works of mercy, it dies,” the Pope said. He celebrated the Mass at the 16th century Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, close to the Vatican, which St. Pope John Paul II in 1994 designated as the official Divine Mercy church in Rome.
<img src=”/content/dam/vaticannews/agenzie/images/srv/2021/04/11/2021-04-11-santa-messa-chiesa-di-santo-spirito-in-sassia/1618131828278.JPG/_jcr_content/renditions/cq5dam.thumbnail.cropped.750.422.jpeg” alt=”Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia”/>
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia
In keeping with Covid-19 health protocols, only some 80 people were permitted within the Church for the Mass. They included male and female prison inmates, nurses, disabled persons, refugees, a migrant family, and some ‘Missionaries of Mercy’ priests concelebrating with the Pope at the altar. However, the Mass was telecast and streamed live on social media to allow wider participation.
Pope Francis began his homily by recalling how the risen Jesus brings about “the resurrection of the disciples” by raising their spirits and changing their lives. He does this with mercy. “Having received that mercy, they become merciful in turn,” the Pope said. They receive mercy from Him through three gifts: peace, the Spirit, and His wounds.
After the death of Jesus, the Pope explained, the disciples were huddled in a room, trapped in futility and full of remorse for having abandoned and denied their Lord. But Jesus arrives and greets them with, “Peace be with you!” The Pope said Jesus “does not bring a peace that removes the problems without, but one that infuses trust within. It is no outward peace, but peace of heart.” He explained, “The peace of Jesus made them pass from remorse to mission.” The peace of Jesus that awakens mission, the Pope continued, “entails not ease and comfort, but the challenge to break out of ourselves,” from the self-absorption that paralyzes, and from the bonds that keep the heart imprisoned. The disciples realized that God did not condemn or demean them, but instead believed in them; as St. John Henry Newman put it, “He loves us better than we love ourselves.”
<img src=”/content/dam/vaticannews/agenzie/images/srv/2021/04/11/2021-04-11-santa-messa-chiesa-di-santo-spirito-in-sassia/1618135132057.JPG/_jcr_content/renditions/cq5dam.thumbnail.cropped.500.281.jpeg” alt=”‘Mercy made tangible’: Pope greets faithful at Regina Coeli”/>
Forgiveness through Holy Spirit
The second way Jesus shows mercy, the Pope said, is by bestowing the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. By ourselves, he said, we cannot remove sin and its guilt. “Only God takes it away, only He by His mercy can make us emerge from the depths of our misery.” Hence, “we need to let ourselves be forgiven.”
“Forgiveness in the Holy Spirit is the Easter gift that enables our interior resurrection,” the Pope said, urging Christians to ask for the grace to “embrace the Sacrament of forgiveness.” “Confession,” he said, “is not about ourselves and our sins, but about God and His mercy.” “Confession is the Sacrament of resurrection, pure mercy,” the Pope said, urging all those who hear confessions to convey the sweetness of mercy.
Wounds of Jesus
Lastly, Jesus heals us with mercy by making our wounds His own and by bearing our weaknesses in His own body, Pope Francis said. The wounds of Jesus are “open channels between Him and us, shedding mercy upon our misery.” “They are pathways that God has opened up for us to enter into His tender love and actually ‘touch’ who He is.” “This,” the Pope said, happens at every Mass, where Jesus offers us His wounded and risen Body.” As the day’s Gospel episode of the doubting Thomas points out, “we discover God; we realize how close He is to us and we are moved to exclaim, ‘My Lord and my God!’” The grace of receiving mercy, he said, is the starting-point of our Christian journey. “Only if we accept the love of God, will we be able to offer something new to the world.”
Receiving and giving mercy
And this is what the disciples did, the Pope said pointing to the Acts of the Apostles. “Receiving mercy, they, in turn, became merciful.” No one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common, which the Pope stressed is pure Christianity, not Communism. Their fears had been dispelled by touching the Lord’s wounds, and now they are unafraid to heal the wounds of those in need.
The Pope concluded, urging all not to remain indifferent. “Having received mercy, let us now become merciful,” he said.
<img src=”/content/dam/vaticannews/agenzie/images/srv/2021/04/11/2021-04-11-santa-messa-chiesa-di-santo-spirito-in-sassia/1618131530537.JPG/_jcr_content/renditions/cq5dam.thumbnail.cropped.750.422.jpeg” alt=”Divine Mercy Sunday in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia”/>
Divine Mercy Sunday in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia
Divine Mercy Sunday
The feast of Divine Mercy has come into the liturgical calendar recently. A Polish nun, Saint Faustina Kowalska, who died in 1938, was an apostle of the devotion to Divine Mercy. During the course of revelations to her, Jesus asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to Divine Mercy, and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.
The liturgical texts of the Second Sunday of Easter already concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and thus are already suited the request of Jesus. This feast, which had previously been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was extended to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of St Faustina on 30 April 2000. Later, in a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world, the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday.”