by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter-Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, 2018:
Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Jesus Christ now appears to His Apostles and disciples after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Jesus Christ has now successfully accomplished the mission He was placed on earth to perform. His mission is to atone for our sins by His sacrifice of Himself, to defeat evil, sin, and Satan, to destroy death, and establish everlasting life. So now that Jesus Christ has accomplished all of this, what is the point? There are two. The point is unity. The point is mercy.
The first two readings, from Acts and from First John, emphasize unity. To “unite” means to come together to form a single unit. In this case, that single unit is “church.” That church is the new worship society Jesus is forming as He promised when He made Peter the rock on which He would build His Church. It replaces the Temple. St. Peter is its earthly head. The essence and soul of this Church is the Holy Spirit. The works of the Holy Spirit in this Church are charity and miracles. The sharing of goods in this Church is because of unity it embraces due to Holy Spirit. This is not a Marxist church, nor will it ever be that. In the first letter of St. John, he writes that faith and love unite us to God and to each other. We must believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior before we can be baptized. In Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirt, are born of God, and become God’s children. We love God and we love others who are begotten of Him. We end up with three dispositions or characteristics that are united in us: love God, love God’s children, and obey His commandments and teachings. It is faith which empowers us to do all three in a world that is hostile to His Church, THIS CHURCH. God loves us so much that He wants to unite us with Him, His Son, and each other IN HIS CHURCH, THIS CHURCH, THE ONE HE FOUNDED ON THE ROCK OF ST. PETER. But we are sinners. We are good but our natures are fallen and we are prone to disobedience and sinfulness, even with the love we share with Jesus and each other. That is where mercy enters. Quite frankly, that’s where Jesus enters.
It is Jesus Himself who dispenses mercy to us through a sacrament. That sacrament is “confession,” “penance,” or “reconciliation.” In today’s gospel, we see the scriptural basis for it. This glorified, risen Jesus gives His Apostles the same mission God gave Him, forgiveness of sins, MERCY. The Apostles will exercise this mission in the name and authority of Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus breathes His Holy Spirit on each of them. The meaning is clear: Jesus has given His Apostles the authority to remit and retain sins in a church, a judicial tribunal, if you will. Jesus tells His Apostles “Peace be with you”; and breathes on them. This remittance of sins is Christ-given. Jesus clearly intends to do this to His Apostles. So when St. Thomas is absent, Jesus does do the same thing to him that second week, when Thomas was with the Apostles. Confession, penance, or reconciliation, is a scripturally-based sacrament of this Roman Catholic Church for our benefit, to unite us with Jesus, in His Church, with each other.
Jesus gives us His Divine Mercy in a wonderful sacrament, confession. Jesus does this to unite us to Him in love, unity. Jesus does this in anticipation of that day, when we come before Him and hope to be united with Him forever in heaven. Unity and mercy are united on this Divine Mercy Sunday. That is what Easter is all about. That is why we should care about this to the point where we will declare, like St. Thomas, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”