We will be providing one or more of the homilies given at a Sunday Mass on this page each week. To see previous homilies, check out the Homily Archive page.
This Sunday the Church continues the celebration of Easter. We continue to praise God for the great gift of Easter. We also celebrate a relatively new feast in the universal Church – the Feast of Divine Mercy. This feast has its roots in a mystic who lived just before the outbreak of World War II – St. Faustiina, and was established in the spring of 2000 – just after St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II. St. Faustina had mystic visions of Jesus who told her of the ocean of mercy he wished man would take advantage of. He challenged her to spread the message of His Divine Mercy.
The Church then presents for us this Sunday three snapshots of early Christian communities. In the first reading from Acts, we are taken to the Day of Pentecost – just after Peter’s speech – and the reaction of the crowds. In the second reading from first Peter, we look again at Christian communities -probably gentile ones– most likely around the end of the first or beginning of the 2nd century, and in the Gospel, we are brought back first to the evening of that first Easter Sunday – and a week later. In each of these scenarios we see strengths and weaknesses – goodness and threats – grace and mercy.
In the first reading from Acts, it is important to note that Peter has just finished his famous speech to the multitudes on Pentecost. He has called the Jewish leaders out – those who had Jesus crucified just weeks earlier. And they ask what they should do. The abundant mercy of Christ gives them a way forward in faith. They are to be baptized, repent and live the Christian life described in our reading. There is a call to reform – a reliance on the great mercy of God – and, God welcomes them,
In the second reading, there is kind of a time warp – we move some 30-60 years or more into the future. Many Christian communities have formed – both from Jewish and Gentile origins (especially through the work of Paul). It is unclear exactly when this book was written – or even whether it was written by Peter himself or perhaps his scribe. But, it is a message of hope and trust in God. It is a message that contains reference to hardships to come- but it celebrates the mercy of God in bringing the communities to where they are through new birth. Perhaps reflecting the words of Jesus in the Gospel, it praises those who believe, but never saw Christ.
In the Gospel, we begin back on Easter Sunday. The disciples are gathered. There is talk that Jesus has risen – but confusion on that point. The disciples must have been in anguish over what had happened – and over the realization that by and large, they had abandoned Jesus. And then Jesus appears in their midst. He gives the gift of the Sacrament of reconciliation – the ongoing proof of his Divine mercy. He gives them proof of His resurrection and offers His peace. But Thomas was missing that evening. Cut forward one week. Jesus returns, and Thomas is there. In a testimony to His ever-present mercy, Jesus presses Thomas to see and believe – and Thomas does. In a message to countless generations forward, Jesus calls blessed those who believe but do not see.
So, what does this mean to us on this Divine Mercy Sunday 2017? It has been suggested that the answer is as simple as ABC.
A stands for ASK for God’s mercy. Like those in each of our Gospel stories today, there will be moments of weakness and failure in our lives. Jesus understands this and offers us the ocean of his mercy – most particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s never too late to come back. A is to ASK for God’s Mercy through Reconciliation.
B is to Be Merciful. The words of our Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us drives this message home – we, as Christians, are to be messengers of God’s Mercy,
C is to Completely Trust in Jesus. In each of our bible readings today there were those in need of God’s mercy. If we but ask, particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can trust in Jesus to be there.
Some things to think about on this Divine Mercy Sunday – and every day as we Trust in Jesus.