SYNOPSIS: EASTER II (APRIL 3) DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY HOMILY (L/16) Introduction: The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting faith and the need for the forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as "God of everlasting Mercy." In the Responsorial Psalm we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” (Ps 118). God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord through His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments.
Scripture lessons: The first reading explains how the Risen Lord continued to show his Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of his apostles in the early Church. The apostles’ Faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love in “signs and wonders.” The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, written to comfort and bolster the Faith of the persecuted Christians, assures them of the presence of the merciful Lord in their lives. Today’s passage from Revelations encourages Christians to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope. Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord gave his apostles the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20: 19-23). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.
Life messages: 1) Let us accept God's invitation to celebrate and practice mercy: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. It is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and are enabled to receive God’s merciful judgment. 2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service. The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer. c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Bl. Mother Teresa presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
EASTER II [C] (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY) (April 3) L-16
(Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 20:19-31)
Anecdote #1: Divine mercy in action: A Time magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a black turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s attempted assassin (who shot the Pope on May 13t, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet had torn into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. Pope St. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed. (http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0308.asp)
# 2: : Mercy in the midst of tragedy: The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died. After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children. After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children. Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. (Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008).
# 3: St. Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy: St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, at 10:00 a.m., His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. The new Saint invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, Who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God's incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God's Generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God's Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, Who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. ... Believing in this love means believing in mercy." “The Lord of Divine Mercy,” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with his left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, "Jesus, I trust in You!" (Jezu ufam Tobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the Blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the Baptismal water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God.
Introduction: The readings for this Sunday are about mercy, trust and the forgiveness of sins. It is especially relevant in this “Year of Mercy” announced by Pope Francis. The opening prayer addresses the Father as "God of everlasting Mercy." In the Responsorial Psalm, we repeat several times, "His mercy endures forever" (Ps 118). Besides mentioning the word, our readings illustrate mercy in action. How does God reveal His mercy? He does so, first and foremost, by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by his suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us in the celebration of the Sacraments. The first reading explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of His apostles in the early Church. The apostles’ Faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love through “signs and wonders.” The Book of Revelation was written to comfort and bolster the Faith of the persecuted Christians by reassuring them of the presence of the merciful Lord in their lives. The second reading, taken from Revelation, encourages Christians to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope. In today’s Gospel, as we recall Jesus’ appearance to the apostles on that first Easter evening, we are vividly reminded of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – the power to forgive sins which Our Lord gave to His apostles -- "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20-23). Today’s Gospel also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord of Mercy. To believe without having seen is every later Christian’s experience. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and hesitation by surrendering our lives to the Risen Lord of Mercy. Let us ask God our Father to open our hearts so that we may receive His Mercy in the form of His Holy Spirit. [The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC: A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world. B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. From http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/]
The first reading (Acts 5:12-16): Luke, the author of Acts, describes the life-style and activities of our earliest predecessors in the Christian Faith, holding up for us, as it were, a model of what the Church is called to become. The passage explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of His Apostles in the early Church. The apostles’ Faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love through the “signs and wonders” that Jesus had promised would accompany their work. Following the model of service set forth by Jesus, they healed the sick by wielding God’s power over disease and unclean spirits. "People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits - and all of them were cured." These cures illustrate how the power of the Resurrection can work miracles, even through ordinary people. We know that this power of the Resurrection still operates today because we have seen how a friendly smile, a gentle touch or a willingness to forgive can heal a broken spirit, and how the challenging words of a parent, a teacher or a friend can quicken the mind and heart.
The second reading (Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19) is taken from the Book of Revelation. In this book, John describes an extraordinary experience he had while living in banishment in the penal colony on the island of Patmos. He wrote this book to comfort and bolster the faith of the persecuted Christians by reassuring them of the presence of the merciful Lord in their lives. Here we read about the vision of the Risen Christ in glory, revealing to John messages for the Christian communities. The usefulness of the Book of Revelation to us Christians is not so much in its symbolic language as in the comfort and strength we receive from solidarity with other Christians in distress. We, who are privileged to anticipate the victory of Christ through the Sacraments and especially in the Eucharist, are also encouraged to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope. "He touched me with his right hand and said, 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, the One Who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.'" The book coveys the message that we are called to live out in our lives in such a way that, through us, others may be able to exclaim, “We have seen the Lord!”
Exegesis: Today’s Gospel: The first part of today’s Gospel (verses 19-23), describes how Jesus entrusted to his apostles his mission of preaching the “Good News” of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. This portion of the reading teaches us that Jesus uses the Church as the earthly means of continuing His mission. It also teaches us that the Church needs Jesus as its source of power and authority and that it becomes Christ’s true messenger only when it perfectly loves and obeys Him. The Risen Lord gives the apostles the authority to forgive sins in His Name. He gives the apostles the power of imparting God’s mercy to the sinner, the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy. In the liturgy, the Church has proclaimed the mercy of God for centuries through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel text also reminds us that the clearest way of expressing our belief in the presence of the Risen Jesus among us is through our own forgiveness of others. We can’t form a lasting Christian community without such forgiveness. Unless we forgive others, our celebration of the Eucharist is just an exercise in liturgical rubrics.
The second part of the Gospel (verses 24-29), presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas in his uncompromising honesty demanding a personal vision of, and physical contact with, the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas had not been with the apostles when Jesus first appeared to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus. Modern Christians, who are no longer able to "see" Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. That is why Paul reminds us that "Faith comes from hearing" (Rom 10:17).
The unique profession of faith: Thomas, the “doubting" apostle, makes the great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God.” Here, the most outrageous doubter of the Resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of belief in the Lord Who rose from the dead. This declaration by the “doubting" Thomas in today’s Gospel is very significant for two reasons. 1) It is the foundation of our Christian Faith, for our Faith is based on the Divinity of Jesus as proved by His miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. Thomas’ profession of faith is the strongest evidence we have for the Resurrection of Jesus. 2) Thomas’ faith culminated in his self-surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52, his fearless preaching, and the powerful testimony given by his martyrdom in A.D. 72.
Life messages: 1) Let us accept God's invitation to celebrate and practice mercy. One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive Divine Mercy. The Gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," demands that we show mercy to our fellow human beings always and everywhere. We radiate God's mercy to others by our actions, our words, and our prayers. It is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.
2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the Risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service (“Faith without good works is dead” James 2:17). It was this Faith in the Lord and obedience to His missionary command that prompted St. Thomas to travel to India to preach the Gospel among the Hindus, to establish seven Christian communities (known later as “St. Thomas Christians”), and eventually to suffer martyrdom. The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic Faith of St. Thomas the Apostle. a) We must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) We must strengthen our Faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through our personal and community prayer. c) We must share in the Divine life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Blessed Mother Teresa presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
3) We need to meet the challenge for a transparent Christian life -- "I will not believe unless I see." This "seeing" is what others demand of us. They ask that we reflect Jesus, the Risen Lord, in our lives by our selfless love, unconditional forgiveness and humble service. The integrity of our lives bears a fundamental witness to others who want to see the Risen Lord alive and active, working in us. Christ’s mercy shines forth from us whenever we reach out to the poor, the needy and the marginalized, as Blessed Mother Teresa did. His mercy shines forth as we remain open to those who struggle in Faith, as did the apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel. We should be able to appreciate the presence of Jesus, crucified and raised, in our own suffering and in our suffering brothers and sisters, thus recognizing the glorified wounds of the Risen Lord in the suffering of others.
4) Like St. Thomas, let us use our skepticism to help us grow in Faith. It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and thus to grow in our Faith. This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments. However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing, but is a gift from God. Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God."
5) Let us have the courage of our Christian convictions to share our faith as St. Thomas did. We are not to keep the gift of faith locked in our hearts, but to share it with our children, our families and our neighbors, always remembering the words of Pope St. John XXIII: “Every believer in this world must become a spark of Christ’s light.”
JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) Traffic cop’s mercy: A priest was forced by a traffic policeman to pull over for speeding. As the cop was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The cop handed the priest the ticket, and said, "Go, and sin no more."
2) Photographer’s mercy: The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man's studio and screamed at him: "This picture does not do me justice!" The photographer replied, "Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!"
3) "Law v Mercy” In Reader’s Digest, Jim Williams of Montana, writes: "I was driving too fast late one night when I saw the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over and rolled down my window of my station wagon, I tried to dream up an excuse for my haste. But when the patrolman reached the car, he said nothing. Instead, he merely shined his flashlight in my face, then on my seven-month-old in his car seat, then on our three other children, who were asleep, and lastly on the two dogs in the very back of the car. Returning the beam of light to my face, he then uttered the only words of the encounter. 'Son,' he said, 'you can’t afford a ticket. Slow down.' And with that , he returned to his car and drove away.” Sometimes mercy triumphs over law. So it is for sinners who call out to Jesus.” (Sent by Fr. email@example.com on March 1, 2013)
Divine Mercy Official website: 1) http://divinemercysunday.com/
8) Good news Ministries: http://gnm.org/
17 Additional anecdotes:
#1) "Well, then, I will have mercy." The Emperor Napoleon was moved by a mother's plea for pardon for her soldier son. However, the emperor said that since it was the man’s second major offense, justice demanded death. "I do not ask for justice," implored the mother, "I plead for mercy." "But," said the emperor, "he does not deserve mercy." "Sir," cried the mother, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." The compassion and clarity of the mother's logic prompted Napoleon to respond, "Well, then, I will have mercy." The Second Sunday of the Easter season invites us to reflect on God’s Infinite love and mercy for His people, as detailed in the Bible and as lived and taught by Jesus, and to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
2) Iranian mother saves son's killer from hanging, with a slap of mercy and forgiveness: Tehran: An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported on Thursday. The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife in 2007. Shargh newspaper said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathered on Tuesday morning. Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim, who had lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the onlookers whether they knew “how difficult it is to live in an empty house.” Advertisement
Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Ms Alinejad approached. She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck, assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer. “I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place … After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer,” Ms Alinejad told Shargh. “The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down. Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.” Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness”. “I’ve asked my friends not to carry knives … I wish someone had slapped me in the face when I wanted to carry one,” he said. A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures - including popular football commentator and TV show host Adel Ferdosipour and former international footballer Ali Daei - appealing for the victim’s family to forgive the killer. See the video commentary here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cwh17osBCNI
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/iranian-mother-saves-sons-killer-from-hanging-with-a-slap-20140418-zqw3f.html#ixzz300Il5O32
3) Divine Mercy and Zacharias Moussaoui. Zacharias Moussaoui was sentenced for a role in the devastating 9/11 tragedy. The Frederick News Post (Apr 14: Good Friday) reported it with the headline: "Suspect wishes pain for victims." Wow. "'So you would be happy to see 9/11 again,' the prosecutor asked. Moussaoui said: 'Every day until we get you.' He told jurors that he has 'no regret, no remorse,' and was disgusted by the heart-rending testimony of victims and relatives and only wished they have suffered more." Have you read any more tragic thoughts and wishes? When this Chaplain describes the words and actions as objectively "evil," he means that, objectively, wanting to murder people, and to plague them with more harm and rub it into their lives is an evil thing. Subjectively, perhaps Zacharias Moussaoui is mentally deranged and not totally culpable for his words and actions. We don't and can't know this as a literal matter of fact. The question was raised by both defense and prosecution in his sentencing. Point: Mercy is just for such people – the free offer of God, to even the harshest of offenders, like Zacharias Moussaoui, of forgiveness and reconciliation if he chooses to accept it. We need to pray for Moussaoui that he may ask for and receive God's pardon and love. This man and his sentiments are just one more reason why Jesus came to Earth-to save souls, even the most overtly plagued ones. (Fr. John J. Lombardi) http://www.emmitsburg.net/grotto/father_jack/2006/mercy_sunday.htm
4) Mayor’s mercy: One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, Mayor of New York City, showed up at Night Court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One case involved an elderly woman who was caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. La Guardia said, "I've got to punish you. Ten dollars or ten days in jail." As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat. He then fined everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city "where an old woman had to steal bread so that her grandchildren should not starve." The hat was passed around, and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50.
5) Mary Duray, Connecticut: Mary and her husband suffered the tragic loss of their son, and it was her understanding of Divine Mercy that helped her and her family forgive those that took his life during a robbery. Mary tells us how her attendance at a Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM) Divine Mercy Program helped her overcome great obstacles and allowed her to forgive and even to pray for them. Knowing that as long as there is life, there is hope, the family did not seek the death penalty for his murderers. How differently does the person filled with God's mercy see and react to the world. (http://mercyimages.com/video_MaryDuray.php )
6) “What I don't know is where I am going." The story is told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers' tickets, Einstein couldn't find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; "Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I'm sure you bought a ticket." As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. You don't need a ticket, I'm sure you bought one." Einstein arose and said "Young man, I too know who I am; what I don't know is where I am going." And that is the Good News of Easter; that we know where we are going. We have been told by the Savior that his life and death has promised us life eternal. (Steven Molin, Elated....Deflated. Quoted by Fr. Kayala)
7) Ask for Mercy: In order to receive mercy we must ask for it and be ready to accept it. If we do not accept it sincerely we will not change our attitude towards our past life. We read in history that in 1829 George Wilson was condemned to death for robbing the mail and killing the policeman who was on the way to arrest him. President Andrew Jackson granted him a pardon, but George Wilson refused to accept it. The judge said 'Pardon is a pardon only when one accepts it. George must die'. Mercy is mercy when we accept it. We read in the life of Voltaire that he wanted to live six weeks to repent for his sins. The doctor told him he would not live six days. He died unrepentant. Having mercy at his door he refused to accept it. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
8) Seven Secrets of the Eucharist: Fred bought a copy of Mercy Song (Ignatius, 2006), which, with citations from St. Faustina's Diary, gives a greater understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, and put it in his briefcase. Fred also purchased a St. Michael's scapular. In an interview with thedivinemercy.org this week, Fred explained what happened next: "I got into a cab and went to the airport," he said. "My flight was delayed about 15 minutes, so I sat there and started reading Vinny's book. I was really taken by it. I boarded the plane and continued to read. Just as we were rolling out for takeoff, I put the book away and closed my eyes and began to reflect on what I had been reading. "Some of us looked at each other," he said. "There was nothing to be said. I knew that the only thing I could do was pray." Which is exactly what Fred did when he suddenly realized it was the Hour of Great Mercy and he would probably be dead in a matter of seconds. He trusted, truly, for the first time. All these fragments of thought seemed to piece themselves into place. The plane was going down, yet everything was making sense. He admits he was in shock. But he also felt at peace, a deep peace. God had allowed him to find the Divine Mercy booklet in his briefcase. God had steered him to Vinny's book. God did all this, he thought, to prepare him for death. He hunched over in his seat to brace for impact. He prayed for God's mercy. Then he prayed two Hail Marys and one Our Father. He made it halfway though a prayer to St. Michael, the archangel, when the plane hit the water, came to a stop, and bobbed up and down like a toy in a kiddy pool. (http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3493).
9) "Sir, that is what I am afraid of." There is a story about a soldier brought before General Robert E. Lee. Accused of misconduct, the soldier was trembling. The general said to him, "Do not be afraid, son. Here you will receive justice." The soldier looked at the general and said, "Sir that is what I am afraid of." Like that soldier, Peter would have reason to tremble. Peter had boasted about his bravery, how he would always stand by Jesus. Yet when Jesus needed him most, he nodded off. Perhaps one could forgive him for falling asleep, but later - when he was wide-awake - he denied Jesus. "I do not know the man." Some rock! In strict justice, Peter should have been punished - at the very least, removed as head of the Church. In Christ's passion, however, a deeper justice is at work. That is what we will discover this Divine Mercy Sunday. God's justice has a name - it is called the Divine Mercy. I invite you to return on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. These are the great days of grace - of Divine Mercy.
10) Macbeth never had peace in his life: One of the famous tragedies of William Shakespeare is Macbeth. When Macbeth was returning after a victory, he was met by three witches. The first witch greeted him, "Thane of Glamis". The second witch greeted him "Thane of Cawdor", and the third witch greeted him, "King hereafter". As they disappeared messengers reached Macbeth with the good news that he was appointed as the Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth went home and shared this strange experience with his wife. She enkindled his hopes, and persuaded him to murder Duncan, the king, who had come to his house as his guest. As Macbeth thrust the dagger into the heart of Duncan he heard a voice cry out, "Sleep no more. Macbeth does murder sleep! … Macbeth shall sleep no more." Thereafter Macbeth never had peace in his life. His life became miserable. In his frantic attempt to get peace he committed murder again and again. When Macbeth sinned against the king he lost his peace. Jesus was aware that sins destroy the peace of man. So when he gave his apostles his "peace," he also granted them the power to destroy sin. To destroy a powerful enemy, we need a powerful weapon. Jesus put this weapon in the hands of the Church when He gave to his Apostles the power to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus said to the apostles: "Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Those whose sins you retain, they are retained." (Fr. Bobby Jose).
11) Uplifting One Another: Have you ever watched geese fly in V-formation? While a thing of beauty to watch, the formation is essential to the geese for survival. If you listen, you can hear the beat of their wings whistling through the air in unison. And that is the secret of their strength: the lead goose cuts a swath through the air resistance, which creates a helping uplift for the birds behind it. In turn their flapping makes it easier for the birds behind them, and so on. Each bird takes its turn at being leader. The tired ones fan out to the edges of the V for a breather, and the rested ones surge towards the point of the V to drive the flock onward. If a goose becomes too exhausted or ill and has to drop out of the flock, it is never abandoned. A stronger member of the flock will follow the failing, weak one to its resting place and wait till the bird is well enough to fly again. Together, cooperating as a flock, geese can fly at 71% longer range, with up to 60% less work. (Phillip Yancy, in Benedict Arnold Seagull; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
12) Cure for Sorrow: There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, "What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?" Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, "Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life." The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, "I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me." They told her, "You've certainly come to the wrong place," and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them. The woman said to herself, "Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?" She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. She became so involved in ministering to other people's grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life. (Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower's Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
13) Hope for the Flowers: A man found the cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then, it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could. So the man decided to help, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! So God in His mercy, challenges us giving obstacles in life. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
14) Don't be crying! It's OK! He is alive! "I remember one occasion when I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of the young men in the group was quite mentally limited, although his grasp of God, of Jesus, and the events of the gospel was uncanny. We arrived at the tomb of the Basilica, and we joined the long line, waiting our turn to enter. One lady came out of the tomb and was obviously deeply touched by the experience of her visit to such a sacred spot. She sat down outside the entrance, took out a tissue, and began wiping her tears. My friend, who was back in the line, spotted what was happening, and responded instantly. He ran straight up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Don't be crying, it's OK. He's alive; don't you know that?" The whole thing was so spontaneous and genuine that the woman stood up, and gave him a warm hug. The simple fact was that he could not understand how anybody could be crying at this tomb, of all the tombs in the world. - Jesus thanked the Father for giving a message that was so simple and straightforward that the intellectual and the worldly-wise would fail to grasp it, and yet it could be fully accepted by someone with the mind of a child. Happy are they who have not seen yet believe." (Jack McArdle in And that's the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
15) President's mercy: Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet -- which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! -- declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.) [Today in the Word (October 8, 1992); quoted by Fr. Kayala).
16) The story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson: One of the stories of the “Forgiveness Project” that caught my attention was the story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson. Oshea had shot and killed Mary’s son - a boy Oshea didn’t even know. There was no way Oshea could pay Mary back for what he had taken from her. And Mary owed him nothing. It’s not an easy story. As Mary said, “I hated everyone for a while.” But over time Mary came to forgive Oshea. She visited him in prison. She helped him when he was released. In the process they both changed. Mary gave Oshea the one gift he needed to begin his healing: total forgiveness. Mercy doesn’t undercut justice but surprises it! It is the linchpin that supports forgiveness and compassion. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope. We might think of mercy as the grace for conversion. (Stories Seldom Heard; quoted by Sr. Patricia).
17) Experiencing God’s love: Experiencing God’s merciful love is the story of every saint. Experiencing the reality of God's personal, intimate love brings the man or woman’s life to a new level, enabling him or her to overcome his or her selfish tendencies and become God's faithful soldiers. St Faustina Kowalska [koh-WAHL-skuh], the Polish nun who received the revelations of the Divine Mercy in the early 1900s, described this experience beautifully.
• One day she went to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, in the chapel of the hospital where she was staying, and our Lord allowed her to feel his love for her in a special way.
• Here's how she described it in her diary - remember, Christ's heart symbolizes his love:
• "And all of a sudden, my soul was flooded with the light of the knowledge of God. Oh, would that I could express even a little of what my soul experiences when resting near the Heart of the incomprehensible Majesty!
• "I cannot put it into words. Only a soul who has experienced such a grace at least once in his life, will recognize it. When I returned to my room, it seemed to me that I was coming from real life into death.
• "When the doctor came to take my pulse, he was surprised: 'Sister, what happened? You have never had a pulse like this! I would like to know what has speeded it up so much.'
• "What could I tell him, when I myself did not know that my pulse was so rapid. I only know that I am dying of yearning for God, but this I did not tell him, for how can medicine help in this instance?" (Diary, #s 969-970) (E- Priest).
18) “Macbeth, sleep no more.” One of the famous tragedies of William Shakespeare is Macbeth. When Macbeth was returning after a victory, he was met by three witches. The first witch greeted him, “Thane of Glamis”. The second witch greeted him “Thane of Cawdor”, and the third witch greeted him, “King hereafter”. As they disappeared messengers reached with the good news that he was appointed as the Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth went home and shared this strange experience with his wife. She enkindled his hopes, and persuaded him to Murder Duncan, the king, who came to his house as his guest. As Macbeth thrust the dagger into the heart of Duncan he heard a voice, “Macbeth Sleep no more.” And “Macbeth has murdered sleep.” Thereafter Macbeth never had peace in his life. His life became miserable. In his frantic attempt to get peace he committed murder again and again. When Macbeth sinned against the king he lost his peace. Jesus was aware that sins destroy the peace of man. So when he wished them “peace” he also granted them the power to destroy sin. (Fr. Bobby Jose).
19) “Do not be afraid.” I would like to tell you about a man who overcame fear in a remarkable way: Thomas Byles, the oldest son of a nineteenth century Congregational minister. Inspired by his father, the young man began a serious study of the Bible and early Christian writers. The more he read the more he became convinced that Jesus founded the Catholic Church. You can imagine the fear he had to overcome to tell his family he was becoming a Catholic, but not only that - God was calling him to the priesthood! Ordained in 1902 the bishop assigned him to a rural parish in Essex, England. There he dedicated himself to youth. During Lent 1912 he told the altars servers that he would be gone for several weeks after Easter. He was going to America to do his brother's wedding. He mentioned that he was travelling on White Star Lines. One of the servers said, "Isn't that the Titanic? I hear it is so strong even God couldn't sink it." The priest smiled and mildly scolded the boy: "Nothing is greater than God. But I am not going on the Titanic, but on the Olympic." As things happened, his brother sent a ticket for the maiden voyage of the Titanic. He boarded as a second class passenger on Wednesday, April 10. Passenger from all classes - and a variety of nationalities - came to him for confession during the first four days. On Sunday, April 14, Fr. Byles celebrated the same Mass we have today - the Second Sunday of Easter. Speaking in French and English, he warned about "spiritual shipwreck" - that is, falling into temptation. We need the sacraments and prayer, he said, like a life belt to not drown in the turbulent sea of this life. Close to midnight, Fr. Byles was on the deck praying his breviary when he felt a sudden jolt. Realizing something serious had happened, he went to third class to help passengers - especially the ill and mothers with small children. * They were the first placed in life boats. Fr. Byles blessed each one, making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. He began giving general absolution and praying with those on board. Twice they offered Fr. Byles a place in a life boat. He replied that a shepherd does not abandon a flock in danger. Many survivors remembered seeing the outline of a priest in his cassock with people huddle around him. As the Titanic began tilting upward he led them in the rosary - Catholics, Protestants, Jews and non-believers all joined in the prayer. Fr. Thomas Byles' body was never recovered from the icy Atlantic. ** A remarkable man. A man who by Jesus' grace overcame fear. A man who heard Jesus' word, "Do not be afraid."(Fr. Phil Bloom).
20) "It's time to get up!" Winston Churchill had planned his funeral, which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral. He included many of the great hymns of the church, and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of Taps, the universal signal that says the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: As Churchill instructed, as soon as Taps was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of Reveille - It's time to get up. It's time to get up. It's time to get up in the morning. That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be Taps, it will be Reveille. The worst things are never the last things. Jesus demonstrated this truth by his resurrection and by his post resurrection appearances to his disciples. John Claypool in 'Leadership' (Fr. Botelho).
21) Doubt no longer but believe! In 1879, Leo Tolstoy, famous Russian novelist, was 51 years of age. He had every reason to be satisfied with life and be proud of his personal achievements. After all, he was author of two classic novels -War and Peace and Anna Karenina. So outstanding were these novels that even if Tolstoy had written nothing more, he would still be remembered and hailed as one of the greatest novelists the world had ever known. However, Leo Tolstoy admits he was always haunted by the nagging question: "Is there any meaning in life that will not be destroyed by death?" Earlier, Tolstoy had abandoned his Christian faith disillusioned by the hypocrisy of some who did not practice what they preached. His search drove him to such desperation that he even contemplated suicide. But at this crucial juncture he realized that the truths of Christianity were the most sensible and he was once again drawn to them, as to a magnet. "I thought that there was no sure truth in life. But then I found a sure source of light. I found it in the Gospel, and was dazzled by its splendor. In the teachings of Jesus, I found the purest and most complete doctrine of life." Like St. Thomas the Apostle in today’s gospel, Tolstoy’s doubts made him a strong believer. Valladares J. in 'Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life'
22) "LifeLock" and "Life Alert" and "Alert Life." One of the fastest growing, most profitable investment ventures in today's economy is anything having anything to do with security. You couldn't have lost money in the last twenty years if you invested in storage or security: national security, personal security, home security, financial security, Internet security. The dangers of this world seem to be breathing hotter and closer down our necks. Any offering that promises to cool that threat down is welcomed with open arms and wallets. We gladly invest in "LifeLock" and "Life Alert" and "Alert Life"- hoping to safeguard both our fiscal and physical lives. Instead of scripted shows by the Blue Angels at air-shows, we are sending long-range spontaneous shows of strength in the form of stealth bombers over South Korean airspace, which offends North Korea. We have "apps" on our smartphones that enable us to watch our front doors at home and our backdoors at work, to turn on our lights and turn off our heat, to be on-guard and on-point, even when we are off-site. We are desperately trying to contain the chaos of the cosmos. In John's gospel, Jesus' first appearance to his disciples is when he comes to them behind closed, locked doors. Despite the vision of the empty tomb, despite the version of the resurrected Jesus Mary Magdalene had reported to them, the disciples were still shuttered and shuddering - clamped down and closed off from a threatening world. Then Jesus blasts through their ADT security system, blows out their "LifeLock," and suddenly stands in their midst...
Jubilee year of Mercy: Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, Pope Francis called for the Year of Mercy—a special period, also known as a Holy Year or Jubilee Year, for the Catholic Church. It is a time for the Church across the world to take approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way. Pope Francis has asked us as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy” by reflecting on and practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy (Pope Francis’ Announcement of the Year of Mercy). Beginning December 8, 2015, the Holy Year of Mercy will focus on studying and reflecting on mercy, receiving mercy, and being merciful towards others. To read more, visit the Vatican’s official website for the Year of Mercy.
A Jubilee Year occurs when the Catholic Church across the world takes approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way. Catholics are encouraged to join together in prayer, go to confession, and share the genius of Catholicism with others. The purpose of a Jubilee Year is to help people grow spiritually, to strengthen their faith, to encourage works of service, and to promote unity within the Catholic Church and society in general. The last Jubilee Year was in 2000, called for by Pope Saint John Paul II.
As in any Jubilee Year, a person can receive a plenary indulgence for the Year of Mercy. A plenary indulgence removes all of what is called “temporal punishment” due to sins that have already been forgiven. Sin and evil are real. Every sin, large or small, is in some way a rejection of the-best-version-of-ourselves and a rejection of God. “Temporal punishment” is the natural consequence of that sin, the necessary purification following forgiveness of sin. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church on Indulgences and Sin and Mercy) L/16
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No 24) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our website: http://stjohngrandbay.org/ for previous Cycle B homilies, 56 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 160 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://en.radiovaticana.va >> Features >> Asia Liturgical Reflections for the Vatican version of this homily.
Fr. Anthony. Kadavil, St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay, AL 36541