April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy

April 12, 2015:  Second Sunday of Easter = Divine Mercy Sunday

  • "Stone" tie pin:  The stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone (psalm)
  • '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
  • 'Hands' tie:  Jesus showed them his hands; Thomas:  "unless I put my hand into his side" (gospel)
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  "Receive the Holy Spirit" (gospel)
  • 'Key' tie pin:  the doors were locked (gospel)
  • White shirt:  color of Easter day and season

Pope Francis
Vespers homily:  The Risen Christ's “Peace be with you!” still resounds.  So many who suffer the violence of discrimination and death for bearing the name “Christian” desire peace.  We cry to our merciful Father that he may sustain the faith of those in pain, and we ask that we be converted from indifference to compassion.  We're saved through the Lord's death and resurrection.  He, the Reconciler, offers us the way to reconciliation with God and each other.  The hope of salvation Christ has given us despite difficulties continues to grow.  God pours out his mercy on us, making us just and giving us peace.
We're starting a Jubilee of Mercy because the Church is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness.  We need to be vigilant and reawaken the capacity to see what's essential, to rediscover the mission the Lord entrusted to us to be sign and instrument of the Father’s mercy.  The Holy Year must keep alive the desire to welcome the signs of the tenderness God offers the world, especially the suffering, alone, abandoned, and hopeless.  A year to experience the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd came in search of the lost, to receive the warmth of his love when he brings us back on his shoulders to the Father, to be touched by the Lord and transformed by his mercy, so we may become witnesses to mercy.  This is the time for mercy, to heal wounds, to not be weary of meeting those waiting to see and to touch the signs of God's closeness, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.  May the Mother of God obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ.

Jubilee of Mercy Bull of Indiction Misericordiae Vultus, “The Face of Mercy” “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy" sums up the Christian faith.  The Holy Year is “dedicated to living out the mercy God extends to us.  God's mercy is not an abstract idea but a concrete reality through which God reveals his love as that of a father or mother, moved to the very depths out of love.  Mercy is the foundation of the Church’s life; our credibility is seen in how we show merciful and compassionate love.  The year's motto is “Merciful like the Father.”  Wherever the Church is present, the Father's mercy must be evident.  Wherever there are Christians, there should be an oasis of mercy.
Ways to live the Holy Year:  go on pilgrimage as an impetus to conversion; forgive and give instead of judging; avoid gossip and jealousy; open your heart to the fringes of society and bring consolation and mercy to people in precarious situations; perform acts of mercy with joy; observe “24 Hours for the Lord” next Lent.  If you're involved in corruption, change your lives and embrace God’s mercy....
As Judaism and Islam consider mercy one of God’s most important attributes, I trust this Jubilee will foster an encounter with other religions, opening us to more fervent dialogue toward knowledge and understanding, and eliminating closed-mindedness, disrespect, violence, and discrimination.
Justice and mercy are two dimensions of a single reality that culminates in the fullness of love.  God doesn't deny justice but envelops and surpasses it with an even greater event (mercy) in which we experience love as the foundation of justice.

Today's homily:  Jesus came among the disciples in the Upper Room and said, “Peace be with you!” and showed them his wounds; they realized it was the Lord, not a ghost, and were filled with joy.  A week later he returned and showed his wounds to Thomas so he too could believe and become a witness.  On this Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord shows us his wounds, wounds of mercy.  Behold these wounds, touch them as Thomas did, and enter into their mystery, the mystery of God's merciful love.  Through them we can see the mystery of Christ and God, retracing the history of salvation.  “His mercy extends from generation to generation.”

We can feel crushed in the face of human tragedy and ask Why?  How can we fill this abyss?  Only God can, through Jesus, with the depth of his mercy.  St. Bernard reflects:  “through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of [Christ’s] heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high”.

See how God opened the way for us to be freed from slavery to sin and enter into life and peace.  Jesus is the way, and his wounds are full of mercy.  The world is changed beginning with the conversion of one’s own heart, and that happens through God's mercy.  Fix your gaze on the Risen Jesus' wounds, sing “His love endures forever,” and go forth led by the hand of our Lord and Savior, our life and hope.

  • Acts 4:32-35:  The believers were of one heart and mind and held everything in common.  The apostles bore witness to the resurrection with power.  Those who owned property sold them and put the proceeds at the apostles' feet to be distributed according to need.
  • 1 Jn 5:1-6  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one begotten by him.  We know we love God's children when we love God and obey his commandments, for the love of God is keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.  Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world, and the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  The one who believes Jesus is the Son of God is victor over the world.  Jesus Christ came through water and blood.  The Spirit testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
  • 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.
    • Creighton:  The story of Thomas is an example of paradox:  he's a man of faith but struggles to believe Jesus has risen; he embodies the paradox of faith and doubt.  Thomas was true to himself and his doubt.  As I appreciate Thomas's courage and Jesus' reassuring love I ask, How often do I ask God for a sign?  What proof of God’s love am I looking for?  How can I embrace the paradox of faith and doubt?
    • One Bread One Body:  "The road to power":  To witness with power, we must witness with lips, money, and possessions.  We need to receive God's love more deeply; it'll cover a multitude of sins and motivate us to fearlessness, unity, commitment, and power.
      The incredulity of St. Thomas/ Caravaggio
    • Passionist:  In early faith communities, on this Sunday the newly baptized no longer wore their baptismal garments.  Today has become known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Our Savior restores forgiveness, mercy, and peace.  And there's the story of Thomas’ growing into belief.  The Easter story is more about Jesus' disappearances than his appearances.  His final “disappearance” was his Ascension....
    • DailyScripture.net:  The Risen Lord revealed his glory to his disciples gradually.  He did something only love and trust can do:  commission his apostles to bring the good news.  Jesus fulfilled his mission through love and obedience to the Father.  He breathes on us the Holy Spirit who equips us with life, power, joy, and courage.  Thomas was a pessimist:  when Jesus proposed they visit dying Lazarus, Thomas said, "Let's go too, that we may die with him."  He loved the Lord but lacked courage to stand with Jesus in his passion.  After Jesus' death, Thomas withdrew from the other apostles, seeking loneliness rather than fellowship.  He doubted the women who saw the risen Jesus and doubted his fellow apostles.  When he had the courage to rejoin the apostles, the Lord reassured him he'd risen, and Thomas believed:  "My Lord and my God!"  In faith we too proclaim Jesus is 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.”
    • St. Zeno of Verona, bishop; see Wikipedia.

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