Homily on Feast of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday2017

Reflection on “The Power of the Resurrection” based on the Gospel of John 20:19-31 – Feast of Divine Mercy

Today – we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. People might think that God’s Mercy toward us is something quite easy for God… but – do not forget – It cost God His Son’s life – the horrible suffering and death of Jesus… meaning – we were purchased so to speak at such a great price…
….to save us from our sinfulness, from the lasting effects of evil, from the brokenness of our humanity … reminding us of God’s great love for us… and that by His Resurrection, He has conquered sin and death… out of love for us.

The gospel story… invites us to faith, to make a decision – to make a choice to believe… or not – like the doubting Thomas.

You see – God’s love, grace and mercy will not really mean much for us if we do not respond in faith.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
God loves us so much that He subjected Himself to our choice. Not to believe is also a choice. And that choice makes all the difference in our lives.

Saint Therese of Lisieux – the Little Flower – a Doctor of the church said:
“If you were to judge by the poems I write, you might think that I have been inundated with spiritual consolation, that I am a child for whom the veil of faith is almost rent asunder. But it is not a veil. It is a wall that reaches to the very heavens, shutting out the starry skies. I feel no joy, I sing only of what I wish to believe.” She chose to believe and that made all the difference in her life.

Admittedly, it is easy to be a person of faith when all is well and wonderful in our lives…. But it is not as easy to have faith – it is not easy to feel the presence of God when we are faced with really deep crises, when things go wrong, very wrong….like when a loved one gets sick or dies, or when we are afflicted with a serious illness, or when our plans for our lives or our loved ones are shattered… when crisis tears at our hearts…

As we journey in this life, reality check – at times – we will enter into a period of doubts and even anger at God. We will doubt to some extent or another, until the time that we see our God face to face.

But until then, what are we to do? Let us recognize and accept our humanity – that doubting is part of being human – and let us humbly ask God for his grace and mercy. Doubting does not mean that we have lost our faith. It simply means that we are being called to a deeper faith.
Let us pray that we might have a mature faith, able to grow through crises… that we might all be included in that phrase the Lord said, “Blessed are those who have not seen but believe.”
Let us continue to choose to believe and accept and always remember that God is always gentle, merciful and patient with us more than we can ever imagine…. That we can be honest with God…. That He will never condemn us for questioning…that God understands our fears and our doubts…

Let us continue to say: “Jesus, we trust in you!”

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus. Many people think that faith means believing in life after death…that we will go on living after we die, right? Of course, that is part of it. But it is not nearly all. Christians are not alone in believing in life after death. Spiritualists and followers of most of the world’s religions believe in life after death.

Unfortunately, many popular notions of heaven are silly or ridiculous such as floating around on a cloud endlessly playing a harp which may not be what you have wanted to do after death – and so if you have the wrong notion of what life after death is, then it might not be necessarily something you desire.

Eternal life as endless existence is not attractive to some people. An eager young minister said: “I have good news for you. In Jesus Christ you can go on living forever and ever.” One man replied, “You call that good news? Listen, I’ve had about enough of this business of living, and the last thing I want is an eternity of it. Some day I want to just lie down, go to sleep, and never wake up.” The young minister went away baffled. It had never occurred to him that someone might not want to live forever – if that is all there is to it.

So – Does the gospel have something better to offer?

The gospel of Jesus Christ offers us a quality of life. Christ came to give us, not endless duration of time, but a different quality of life. Easter faith is not about an unending quantity of what we have now. Easter faith has to do with a quality of BEING that the boundaries of space and time cannot hold…Words are not enough to describe it because – just as the Scriptures say: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has it entered the human heart what God has prepared for those who love Him” … It is just beyond our human worldly comprehension…

But – eternal life begins now – on earth as it is in heaven – As Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” … even in the midst of earthly struggles.

While Easter faith refers to a different quality of life, this does not mean a life without suffering. What we often want is to be saved from suffering, from pain, from inconvenience. God in Christ seeks to save us from sin, and from ourselves, but not necessarily from suffering. There is no problem-free existence in this world.

At times we allow ourselves to be deceived or fooled by the marketing techniques that bombard us endlessly in believing that life without pain is possible. Somehow, we feel, if we can make all the right purchases, there is a problem-free life.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles.” Following Jesus never meant walking away from trouble. Actually, it more likely meant walking straight into trouble. Think of those people of faith who knew persecution, poverty, and pain precisely because they were Christians. Easter faith has never meant believing in a trouble-free existence. Easter faith does not mean having resurrection without a cross.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles, but be of good cheer (take hear, do not be afraid), I have overcome the world.” (Jo 16:33)

Easter faith means believing in the power of resurrection. It means believing that it is out of death that God brings life. It means believing that in every human situation there is “a saving possibility.” No situation is beyond the redemptive power of God’s love. And so, if you are in a “bad situation” in your life, do not lose hope. Hold on to faith.

I will close with these excerpts from Pope Francis exhortation: “The Joy of the Gospel:

“We need to realize that Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. Often – it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit.

However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world – beauty is born anew. Human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection.

It is the Risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: “Behold, I make all things new.” ” (Rev 21:5).

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