Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28th, 2019:
Today, we celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday” in the Roman Catholic Church. Holy Mother Church has wisely placed this special Sunday one week after the celebration of Easter. Why? Because of what is happening to the infant church after Jesus has lived, died, and rose from the dead. Acts of mercy break out.
“Mercy” is defined as: “compassion or forbearance shown to an offender, clemency”; “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion”; and “compassion shown to victims of misfortune.” In the first reading from Acts, “compassion shown to victims of misfortune” applies very well. The reason is that the Twelve had a charismatic power to heal the sick. In Jesus’s name, the Apostles demonstrate extraordinary power over death, demons, and disease. The response of the Jews in verses 15 and 16 prove it. Healing is an act of mercy.
In Psalm 118, the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Jesus Christ uses this prophecy to refer to Himself. The Jewish nation and religious authorities reject Him as Messiah but God exalts Him. Quite frankly, it is the same with Jesus’s Apostles. They were selfish and self-seeking. Jesus could not have chosen a more uninspiring group of men as His Apostles. But after Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit on them to begin this church, that same Holy Spirit that Jesus sends to them elevates them and gives them this charismatic gift of healing. They become living, Spirit-filled stones attached to the cornerstone of Jesus’s Mystical Body, the Church.
In the gospel reading from John 20:19-31, Jesus appears to the Eleven. Thomas is not there. Jesus “…breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound”(John 20:22-23). Holy Mother Church points to those verses as proof that the sacrament of Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession is scripturally based. Jesus also recreates God’s people in this believing community of His Apostles. Then, Jesus makes His Mission their Mission too. The apostles’ mission is to reveal God, who is love, in their words and their deeds.
In the readings from Acts and John’s gospel, the deeds that the Apostles perform are works of mercy. The Catholic Church, in her wisdom, classifies these works, which we can and must do. The healing acts of mercy are called the corporal works of mercy. They include: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, shelter the homeless, visit prisoners, bury the dead. Those are corporal acts of mercy. In John’s gospel, forgiving sins is a spiritual act of mercy. Holy Mother Church, in her Spirit-filled wisdom has identified these acts as spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowful, forgive injuries, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead. Those are spiritual works of mercy that we, in this same church that the Apostles led two-thousand years ago, can perform. We will now ask Jesus Christ to send us His Holy Spirit to sharpen our efforts to perform these merciful works. We will now pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Please take out your rosaries and kneel down….
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016