The Bishops Homily – 2nd Sunday Of Easter 2018

2nd Sunday Of Easter 2018
Cycle B | 08/04/18
Acts 4: 32-35
1 John 5: 1-6
John 20: 19-31

 

INTRODUCTION: Today is Divine Mercy Sunday — the day St. John Paul II dedicated to honor St. Faustina’s vision of Christ’s Heart radiating forth white and red rays which she interpreted as God’s mercy for the world.

Karel Woytiwa, as a young man, cultivated devotion to Sr. Faustina Kowolska, a young nun having died in Krakow in 1938, just on the eve of Poland’s Fall into the Communist Regime on 1 September 1939 which historians say started the crucifixion of the Polish People and which John Paul II calls the cruelest of all centuries, one most marked by genocide, by deep hatred, and, therefore the century most in need of the Divine mercy. As Pope he spread all over the planet the devotion to the Divine Mercy where every 3 o’clock people pray the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, pledging to trust in Jesus.

(1) What do we mean by mercy? Mercy is the English for the Latin word misericordia, meaning suffering of the heart, a type of compassion (from the Latin verb compati, meaning to suffer with, a deep loving identification with people in their suffering.

It is identical with the O.T. word Hesed or tender mercy. It is the characteristic of God, for God is Love. Pope Francis has been stressing on this, not just an attribute of God among many but is the very essence and nature of God. God’s love among the three Divine Persons spills over into the world he created.

That is what St. Faustina saw flowing forth from the heart of Jesus. The often repeated refrain “His mercy endures forever” in Psalm 118 was sung in ancient times. Think of the mother’s love for her children, a great biblical metaphor. Could you imagine a mother indifferent to one of her offspring? Yet Isaiah says even if she forgets, God will never forget his own. Put in more philosophical terms: nothing in the world would exist if it were not at every moment actively willed into being by God. This is the great act of tender mercy.

(2) Is GOD’s mercy opposed to his Justice or truth? Such an opposition is metaphysically impossible! Why? For God is simple, one, and indivisible. All his attributes are identical with his essence or nature. God is all these; man thinks in separate realities. It is like a prism.

When the prism is under a light, it radiates several colors but there is only one prism. How is this love manifested? The second reading of today from I John illustrates the question admirably. It is John who constantly says God is Love. In his mercy, God wants to share his life/love with us. How? Precisely as a command to love. God’s mercy is shown as command to love. Without that, love is only an abstraction.

(3) No greater sign of God’s mercy than the forgiveness of sins. Our Gospel today lays this truth with utmost clarity. The disciples are in the upperroom gathered and Jesus appears suddenly. Fear and shame is manifested in their faces for they thought Jesus is coming for a vengeance.

What is Jesus’ first word to them? Shalom! Peace! The risen Jesus shows to them his hands and his side lest they forget what the world and they did to him. But he does not follow it with a word of blame but with a word of mercy and a commission to his disciples just as he himself received the same commission from his Father.

Then he breathed on them, saying “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them; whose sins you retain are retained.” This is the formula of the Sacrament of Penance which Jesus instituted then and now as the privileged vehicle of the Divine Mercy. J. K. Chesterton, when asked why he converted to Catholicism answered: “To have my sins forgiven.”

We know how this Sacrament has fallen into disuse following Vatican II. Notice how Pope Francis has stressed this Sacrament of Penance not only by his stress on the Divine Mercy but also by his actually going to confession. Once in the middle of a Liturgical procession, he left the procession to go to confession to a startled old priest in the confessional.

CONCLUSION: Revel on the Divine Mercy but not only intellectually but in a more practical way. May I recommend to everyone listening to me now. All of us go to individual Confession at least once every year. It is the best way to bash on the Divine Mercy.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

 

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