27th / 28th April 2019

posted 29 Apr 2019, 04:57 by Parish Office

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, 27 & 28/4/19


This evening/today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, and if we look over the past week or so, we can see that mercy has been at work all throughout Holy Week and into Easter.


On Maundy Thursday, Christ knew all that was going to happen over the next few days.  He also knew that He would ascend into heaven, and He didn’t want to leave us as orphans.  So He gave us the Eucharist and the Priesthood, two important ways in which He would continue to be with us through time, till time is no more and He returns in glory.  In the Eucharist, we are brought into contact with His saving sacrifice on the Cross, and His risen Presence at the Resurrection.  The priesthood makes this possible, and through the priesthood Christ would continue to be present among His People.


On Good Friday, He let Himself be cruelly treated and put to death.  He let us see not only the horror of our sins and what they have done to Him, but also that He was willing to go through all of that to offer a perfect sacrifice to the Father, to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away and reconciles us to God.  That supremely was an act of mercy.  There was no way we could have redeemed ourselves, as the gulf between us and God and the price to be paid was infinite.  Christ in His infinite nature as God died for us as a representative of the human race.  He confronted sin, never giving in to it.  He let sin do its worst – He wasn’t going to back down from bearing witness to the truth about God, no matter what the cost.  He perfectly fulfilled the will of the Father, and for that, He was hated, treated as worse than a criminal and put to death.


But death had bitten off more than it could chew.  “Christ died, but soon revived again, / and even death by him was slain” as the hymn says.  He returned gloriously in His Resurrection.  Now the mission of mercy deepens with the institution of the sacrament of reconciliation:  “those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; … those who sins you retain, they are retained”.  We can’t go back in time to the first century and confess to Christ directly, but through the priest, Christ is present again and we can confess to Him.  That is why a priest is sometimes described by the Latin phrase alter Christus, which means “another Christ”, or that Christ works through the priest, and the priest is an incarnation of Christ.  When the priest says that your sins are forgiven, what he says has the divine guarantee of Christ Himself.  Just the same as when a police officer says, “You are under arrest”, you are under arrest, because the police office has the authority of the law of the land to arrest you.  But confession is the opposite to being arrested and taken to court.  With confession, you declare yourself guilty as charged, but instead of being sent to prison, you are forgiven and set free.


Easter is also a time when we focus on baptism, which forgives all sins and does away with our purgatory as well.  In the early Church, it was not unknown for people to delay baptism until their deathbed for this reason – the emperor Constantine followed this practice.  More recently, though, in the 1930s, Our Lord appeared to St Faustina and revealed His desire to institute the feast of Divine Mercy, so that through trusting in His great mercy for us, going to confession and receiving Holy Communion, we can receive the grace of what is sometimes called a “second baptism”.  Just like with baptism, not only are all our sins forgiven, but also our purgatory – the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven – is wiped away.  Jesus said to Saint Faustina:


“When you go to confession, know this, that I am waiting for you in the confessional.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in the soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.  From this fount of Mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great there is no limit to My generosity.” (Diary VI 6-7)  Therefore, “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”  (11,138)


Also, as part of the devotion, Christ asked that the image of Divine Mercy be blessed.  The words of the prayer of blessing ask that the image be a means of grace for people to help them to see their sins and to repent of them, trusting in His Mercy.  The annual blessing of the image reminds us not only of the mercy of God, but also to use the image as a means of helping us trust in Jesus and surrender everything over to Him in confession.


Truly great is the mercy of the Lord, and we need it so much.  Lord, help us not to be indifferent to your love and mercy, and neither to be afraid, but to turn to you with faith and trust, knowing that at the time of need, your mercy is there.  Amen.