2nd Sunday of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday
A Homily - Cycle A - 2007-2008

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First Reading - Acts 2:42-47
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 118:1, 2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Second Reading - 1 Peter 1:3-9
Gospel - John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  (Jesus) said to them again.  "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."  But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." 

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and he said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."  Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

"Let those who fear the Lord say, His mercy endures forever." (Ps. 118)

John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.

Today's responsorial psalm and the First Letter of St. Peter each extol God's mercy.  Forgiveness is an essential quality of the virtue of mercy. We know that each of us have been, at times, unfaithful in living-up to the Gospel precepts to pursue holiness (i.e. the Beatitudes).  We therefore pray in the Eucharistic Prayer #1: "Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness."

In the face of what has been described as, "man's inhumanity to man," which is so evident in today's world, it is difficult at times to combine justice and compassion.  As Fr. Edw. Steiner noted: "Our culture admires mercy, but is slow to extend it."  We Americans portray ourselves as, "A nation of laws."  Justice is the virtue most admired and desired in our relationships - both between individuals and between international communities.  Examples of this are in the contemporary issues concerning the death penalty and unlawful (undocumented) immigration.  We want, for example, that in cases of senseless and careless-ness of capital murders in America the perpetrators, "Get what they deserve."  We don't like to hear our nation describes as, "One of the most violent countries in the world" (Anon.), yet the number of capital murders in America is appalling.  How can we, how do we, effect the implementation of justice, tempered by mercy?  God's word in scripture extols the virtue of mercy.  In the Old Testament, Yahweh, (God), declared: "It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice."  And the ministry of Jesus is replete with examples of the mercy and compassion he extended to sinners.

On May 5, 2000, Pope John Paul II requested that the Second Sunday of Easter be designated as "Divine Mercy Sunday."  The private devotion of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy comes from the prayer-life of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who had been granted mystical visions of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  St. Faustina kept a diary of these apparitions in which she quotes Jesus as saying, "I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, especially for poor sinners."

When he was yet Archbishop of Cracow, Poland, Karol Wojtyla (later elected as Pope John Paul II), became persuaded of the sanctity of the life of Sr. Mary Faustina, and introduced her "cause for canonization."  Little did the archbishop realize that later he would be the pope to beatify Sr. Faustina in 1993, and to declare her to be a saint in heaven in April, 2000.  At the time of her beatification liturgy it was stated: "The message of Divine Mercy is. . . implicitly a message about the value of every human being.  Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one. . . This consoling message is addressed, above all, to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial, or crushed by the weight of sins they have committed, have lost all confidence in life, and are tempted to give-in to despair.  To them, the gentle face of Christ is offered."

As we heard Psalm 118 declare, "Let those who fear the Lord say, 'His mercy endures forever.'"  God desires that mankind repent of their evil acts and, as St. Faustina wrote, "Approach the font of Mercy."  Sinner though I am, and sinner though you may be, this feast of Divine Mercy gives us hope and invites us to always pray with confidence in God's justice and compassion, "Jesus, I trust in you." (Diary of St. Faustina)  

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