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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday Homily


Thomas Aquinas' poem-hymn to the Eucharist Adoro Te Devote, talks about today's Gospel in verse 4. Speaking to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament, each of us pray these words: Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see, / / His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee, / / Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase, / / Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.

Today when Our Lord Jesus comes among the apostles, he brings "peace," a peace that we see in the newspapers is so much needed across the globe, but if we look sincerely into our hearts we find that it is needed here again and again.  That peace comes from knowing that God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ Jesus.  It is a gift, and as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, we call it a "mercy," too.

It is important that we remain connected to our Holy Father especially in his important words and actions.  So for today, I want to read a longer-than-usual section of P. Francis lecture to his priests in Rome on retreat in March 2014 (link here):

We are not here to take part in a pleasant retreat at the beginning of Lent, but rather to hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to the whole Church of our time, which is the time of mercy. I am sure of this. It is not only Lent; we are living in a time of mercy, and have been for 30 years or more, up to today.

This was an intuition of Bl. (now St.) John Paul II. He “sensed” that this was the time of mercy. We think of the Beatification and Canonization of Sr Faustina Kowalska; then he introduced the Feast of Divine Mercy. Little by little he advanced and went forward on this.

In his homily for the Canonization, which took place in 2000, John Paul II emphasized that the message of Jesus Christ to Sr Faustina is located, in time, between the two World Wars and is intimately tied to the history of the 20th century. And looking to the future he said: “What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium” (Homily, Sunday, 30 April 2000). It is clear. Here it is explicit, in 2000, but it was something that had been maturing in his heart for some time. Through his prayer, he had this intuition.

Today we forget everything far too quickly, even the Magisterium of the Church! Part of this is unavoidable, but we cannot forget the great content, the great intuitions and gifts that have been left to the People of God. And Divine Mercy is one of these. It is a gift which he gave to us, but which comes from above.

And this gift that we celebrate in the Easter season is exactly why Pope Francis decided to formally declare (link here) last night what he mentioned in passing a few weeks ago: an extraordinary jubilee year dedicated to mercy.  We all should read this letter in full before December 8, when this Jubilee Year begins.  It is written to us and for us, and will prepare our hearts to make next year effective.  This is different from the current year for the religious life, because jubilee years usually only occurs every 25 years or so, with the Pope having entire freedom to determine its time and purpose. For us, starting December 8, God wants us to reflect on God's Mercy, which was poured out from the wounds of love that Christ endured in His Passion and the apostles all encounter today.

We ourselves, and our bleeding and crying world need the Lord's mercy.  This is the time of mercy, and the Lord wants us to receive it and to carry it to others.

How do we experience the Lord's Mercy?
1. Confession
2. Eucharist

How do we share it?  In a million ways, but especially the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which we should all have memorized.  Our Savior Himself told us, "Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be theirs."  May the Living and Reigning victor over Sin and Death strengthen us as he did the apostles to be missionaries of His Mercy.  Amen.

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