10th/11th April 2021

posted 12 Apr 2021, 02:49 by Parish Office

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday (10 & 11/4/21)

Our celebration of Easter continues today, as we hear how the disciples were all gathered in one room with the doors closed, “for fear of the Jews”. Jesus enters that place where the Church is gathered together in fear, and transforms it into an occasion of peace and joy.

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, and later on you can come and take a good look at the Divine Mercy image on your right, which I’m going to bless a bit later on. You will see that Jesus has his right hand raised in blessing, whilst His left is touching His Heart. His Heart is not visible, as it is on the Sacred Heart statue, but there are two rays, one red, the other pale blue, emanating from His Heart. And you’ll also notice that you can just about make out the fact that His hands still have the holes made by the nails on the Cross. It is an image of the risen Jesus.

Sometimes, your Protestant friends might ask, “Where is confession in the Bible?” Well, today we read that very passage where Christ institutes the Sacrament of Confession, or Reconciliation (John 20:22-23):

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

Receive the Holy Spirit.

For those whose sins you forgive,

they are forgiven;

for those whose sins you retain,

they are retained.’”

The Divine Mercy image, and devotion, are all about the forgiveness of God. No matter how great our sins, God’s mercy is all the greater. Our Lord spoke to St Faustina many times during her life about His desire for there to be a Feast of Divine Mercy, and spoke of the world’s need to turn to Him, trusting in His forgiveness. This was back in the 1930s when Catholics were more frequent in going to confession. It’s even more relevant now. This is what He said, as recorded in St Faustina’s diary (para 1448):

Write, speak of My mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.”

Part of the emphasis of this Sunday’s readings is also on mission. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you” (John 20:21). These days, that means both bringing back the lapsed and making new converts. For some, it might seem rather off-putting to be told about the need to go to Confession. For some, their dread is a bit of a form of self-defence. Often, to admit to doing wrong is to expect punishment, or at least some form of criticism. But that’s not what Confession is about. Confession is about revealing our wounds to the Lord, so that they can be healed. Yes, Lord, I’ve made a mess of things, and I want your grace to start again. When I was baptised, I was clothed in a white garment, but I’ve dirtied it and I want it to be clean again. I’ve offended others, I’ve hurt myself, and most of all, I’ve offended you. I place my burdens at your feet, Lord, including the heaviest ones, the most unmentionable ones, trusting in your mercy.

Another illustration of God’s mercy: on Thursday, I watched the film The Good Pope: John XXIII, starring Bob Hoskins. You can find it on YouTube. One of the new things that Pope St John XXIII did was to visit a prison. In the film, he addresses the prisoners, not to give them a telling off, but to tell them that he is there for them as their father, and he blesses them. One of them comes running across towards him, behind the bars, of course, and he publicly confesses that he killed a man. He says, “What you said … was not meant for me”. Pope John replies that it was, that it was especially for you. God knows your sorrow, and He forgives. That’s also the image of Divine Mercy Sunday: no matter what our sins are, God is here for us with His mercy, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Our world needs God’s mercy. It is too filled with condemnation, revenge, rejection and constantly tries to justify the unjustifiable. Divine Mercy is its only hope. That’s how it can emerge from a room of fear, rediscovering the risen Lord.