April 3, 2016

Divine Mercy

April 3, 2016:  Second Sunday of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday

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Pope Francis
Mass homily:  The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, because everything Jesus said and did expresses the Father’s mercy.  But it's an open book; the signs of Christ’s disciples, acts of love and witness to mercy, continue to be written.  We're called to be Gospel writers, heralds of the Good News, by doing works of mercy, the hallmarks of the Christian life, accompanying the needy, bringing God’s tenderness and consolation, continuing Jesus' Easter work of pouring the Father's mercy into hearts, bringing the Spirit, forgiveness, and joy.
Today's gospel presents a contrast between the disciples' fear and Jesus' commission to them.  It may also be in us, a struggle between a closed heart and love's call to open doors closed by sin, a call to go out of ourselves.  Christ, who broke through doors barred by sin and death, wants to break our doors open and send us out.  We must move beyond ourselves to witness to the healing power of love.  Humanity is often wounded and fearful, bearing the scars of pain and uncertainty.
In God’s mercy we find healing.  His mercy seeks to encounter poverty, free us from slavery, and heal all wounds. Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that afflict our brothers and sisters.  Curing them, we profess Jesus, make him present and alive, and allow others, who touch his mercy, to recognize him as “Lord and God” as Thomas did.  This is the mission he entrusts to us.  So many ask to be listened to and understood.  The Gospel of mercy we must proclaim seeks people with patient and open hearts, who understand compassion and silence before others; it requires generous and joyful servants, people who love without expecting anything in return.
“Peace be with you!” is Jesus' greeting to his disciples; this same peace awaits us, not a negotiated peace or absence of conflict but his peace, peace that's defeated sin, fear, and death, peace that unites, that makes us feel listened to and loved, peace that persists in pain and fuels hope, peace reborn by God's calming forgiveness.  We're entrusted to be bearers of his peace, instruments of reconciliation, to bring the Father’s forgiveness to everyone, to reveal his love through our acts of mercy.
God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, runs out, gives up, or tires; in it we find strength in trials and weakness because we're sure God won't abandon us.  Give thanks for so great a love, and ask to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world; ask to be merciful and spread the power of the Gospel.
Prayer vigil:  God's mercy is a vast ocean; it's so great, we can't describe it in its entirety.  The Bible expresses it as nearness to his people and in tenderness, especially in Hosea.  So it also comes as compassion and solidarity, consolation and forgiveness.  The more we receive, the more we're called to share it.  It burns within our hearts, driving us to love and recognize the face of Christ, above all in the most distant, weak, alone, confused, and marginalized.
Read
  • Acts 5:12-16  Many signs and wonders were done at the hands of the apostles.  Great numbers were added to the believers in the Lord.  Many brought in the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
  • Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24  "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love is everlasting."  The Lord gave me strength and saved me.  The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice.
  • The incredulity of St. Thomas
    (de Rossi)
    Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19  I, John, was caught up in spirit and heard a loud voice:  “Write what you see.”  I saw seven gold lampstands, and one like a son of man in their midst; he wore a robe and gold sash. He touched me and said, “Fear not!  I am the first and the last.  Once I was dead, but now I am alive.  I hold the keys to death.
  • Jn 20:19-31  Jesus came to the disciples, said “Peace be with you,” and showed them his hands and side; they rejoiced.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  Receive the Holy Spirit; forgive sins....”  They told Thomas (who wasn't there), “We've seen the Lord.” / "Unless I put my finger into his nail marks and hand into his side, I won't believe.”  Jesus returned a week later when Thomas was there, said, “Peace be with you,” then told Thomas, “Put your finger here, see my hands, put your hand into my side, and believe.”  Thomas:  “My Lord and God!” / “You believe because you've seen?  Blessed those who haven't seen and have believed.”  Jesus did many other signs, but these are written so you may believe Jesus is Christ and Son of God, and you may have life.
Reflect
    • Creighton:  "Peace and mercy":  When Christ entered the Upper Room, he could have said, "Where were you? Why did you abandon me?"  But he said, "Peace!"  He forgave and healed and shared his joy.  Pope Francis re Divine Mercy:  "It restores hope to those who feel overwhelmed by the burden of sin. God's mercy is present in our love for those we forgive and those we care for; it's greater than any evil.  "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."  Give us the grace to have mercy on others, especially those we find it hardest to forgive and those who most need healing.  To be disposed to forgive and heal is to be a channel of Christ's Peace.  May we recognize and welcome the signs of God's tenderness.  We can feel crushed in the face of today's tragic events, and we can't adequately deal with today's evils on our own.  We need the mercy and peace God gives now as he did in the upper room.  The Prayer of St. Francis expresses the link between mercy and peace.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Feeder systems":  As Thomas, who doubted, became a missionary and martyr, we who doubt are called to be transformed, then renew the earth in the Spirit's power.  There are Christians who acknowledge the resurrection but are locked in fear.  Fear and doubt feed each other, but Jesus broke the vicious cycle by leading Thomas to faith:  "My Lord and my God" prepared the way for the Spirit at Pentecost, after which Jesus' disciples were fearless in leading others to faith. Fearlessness feeds faith.  Am I in a cycle of fear and doubt or fearlessness and faith?
      The incredulity of St. Thomas/ Caravaggio
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Unless I see , I won't believe":  The Risen Lord revealed his glory to his disciples gradually.  Even after they saw the tomb and heard about his appearance to the women, they were weak in faith and afraid of being arrested.  When Jesus appeared to them, he offered proofs of his resurrection by showing them his wounds.  He calmed their fears and brought them peace, and he commissioned them to proclaim the good news.  This sending the disciples out is parallel to the Father's sending Jesus.  Jesus fulfilled his mission through his love of and obedience to the Father.  He calls us to do the same and gives us the same Spirit he gave them to equip us with life, power, joy, and courage to follow him.  Thomas was a pessimist:  when Jesus proposed they visit Lazarus, Thomas told the disciples:  "Let's go too and die with him."  He loved the Lord but lacked courage to stand with him in his passion.  After Jesus' death, Thomas withdrew, seeking loneliness rather than fellowship, doubted the women who saw the risen Jesus, and doubted his fellow apostles.  Through the gift of faith, we recognize the Risen Lord:  when Thomas finally rejoined the others, the Lord reassured him he'd risen; then Thomas believed and confessed Jesus as Lord and God.  Through faith we too, proclaim Jesus as our Lord and God....
    • Universalis:  Pope John Paul II at Sr. Faustina Kowalska's canonization:  Jesus told Sr. Faustina: “Humanity won't find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy.”  It's not a new message but is a gift of that helps us to live the Easter Gospel.  The future holds progress and painful experiences, but divine mercy will illumine the way.  The path of mercy re-establishes our relationship with God and creates relations of solidarity among people.  We receive and experience God's mercy and are called to practice mercy towards others.  He showed many paths of mercy, forgiving sins and reaching out to human need.  Jesus bent over every poverty, material and spiritual.   It's not easy to love deeply, which lies in the gift of self, learned only by penetrating God’s love.  Looking at him, we can look fresh at others, with unselfishness, solidarity, generosity, and forgiveness.  Sr. Faustina:  “I feel pain when I see my neighbors' sufferings; I carry their anguish in a way that destroys me.  I'd like their sorrows to fall on me, to relieve my neighbor.”  This love must inspire humanity, if we're to face our challenges and the duty to defend the dignity of every person.  The message of divine mercy is a message about the value of every person, precious in God’s eyes.  For each Christ gave his life and the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.  This consoling message is addressed to those who have lost confidence and are tempted to despair.  Christ offers them his gentle face, shows them the way, and fills them with hope.  How many have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you.”
    Dress legend
    • 'Stone' tie pin:  The stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone (psalm)
    • 'Scroll' pin:  Write what you see on a scroll (2nd reading)
    • Gold-colored accessories:  Gold lampstands, gold sash (2nd reading)
    • 'Keys' tie pins:  "I hold the keys to death" (2nd reading); the doors were locked (gospel)
      • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  it's wonderful in our eyes (psalm); "we have seen the Lord" (gospel)
      • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  “Peace be with you!” (gospel)
      • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Divine Mercy
      • 'Nail' tie pin:  Thomas:  "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the marks..." (gospel)
      • 'Hands' tie:  Jesus showed them his hands; Thomas:  Miracles were done at the apostles' hands (1st reading); "unless I put my hand into his side, I won't believe" (gospel)
      • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  "Receive the Holy Spirit" (gospel)
      • White in shirt:  color of Easter day and season