Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday

Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Many people are familiar with the devotion called the Chaplet of Mercy. It has been introduced and prayed in our parishes for a number of years. During my time in Rome St. Faustina was canonized by our Holy Father John Paul II. Mercy is not a new concept in the Church but one that in our times the Lord felt needed to be emphasized to our modern culture through Sr. Faustina. I would like to share with you a quote from one of her writings and how I think it relates to the Gospel Message today.
To Saint Faustina Our Lord said:
“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary, 699).
God’s mercy comes to us in many ways but in special ways through the graces he gives us in the sacraments. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that Mercy is said to be a virtue influencing one’s will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. God, in his great compassion for us, alleviates our misfortunes by sharing with us his divine life through the sacraments. Of the seven sacraments we can receive, there are only two we receive on a regular basis: Confession and Eucharist. Notice the two go hand in hand as St. Faustina relates to us. We should also pay attention to the order in which she relates them. You go to confession and then receive Holy communion. Then the divine floodgates are opened.
I think this is a very important point to address today because many Catholics seem to be abandoning the practice of regular confession. The lines for communion are long, but the lines for confession are short. Much of this comes from living in a culture that is largely protestant and increasingly secularized. Some people have the notion that they can confess their sins directly to God. They don’t believe it when they are told otherwise because they have lost respect for the Church’s authority. They believe they can decide what is right and wrong. You will often hear: That may be true for you but it isn’t true for me. I would like to address these ideas from our scripture passages today.
The last shall be first. In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice that he doesn’t say: “no one comes to the Father except through us” There is one Jesus. He is the truth. There is one truth and it is true for all of us. There is no my truth, or your truth. There is the truth and we must conform our lives to it or reject it.
Who gets to decide. Who did God promise to protect from Error? He promised to protect Peter and his successors. That is why the Pope is called the Vicar of Christ on Earth. In Matt 16:18,19 he says “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Notice he didn’t say us. He said you. Jesus knows the difference between plural and singular. He gave him the last word. Whatever he teaches in faith and morals is bound in heaven. In reality God, through the Holy Spirit, preserves him from error when teaching in faith and morals. Do you doubt it? Your not arguing with me. Your arguing with Jesus. He said it. I am proclaiming to you His Gospel, not my own.
Look to the importance of Peter in the first reading today. Many signs and wonders were performed by the apostles, but the people carried the sick to the streets in order that Peter’s shadow might fall upon them. It reminds me of the woman who just wanted to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak and then she would be healed. After he ascended people merely wanted the Shadow of Christ’s vicar on Earth to fall on them. Watch how they reach for our Holy Father John Paul II when he goes by, holding their children up, just hoping to shake his hand. The vicar of Christ is exactly that. Jesus made him so and we need to respect his decision. He is where the buck stops on this Earth and he is protected by the Holy Spirit. Not us. We can conform our lives to it or reject it.
The Church clearly teaches us that we need to go to the sacrament of confession. We must go to one of those sent by Christ or his apostles. Why? Because Jesus instituted it himself and gave them the power to forgive sins. Look at John today. On the Evening of the first day of the week. That means on Sunday Evening, the very evening of the very day he was resurrected Jesus came to the apostles. He said to them “Peace be with you.” He showed them his hands and side to wipe away any doubts of who he was. Then he sent them as the Father sent him. To forgive sins. He sent them to forgive sins. He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit and said whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained. Jesus gave his apostles and their successors the ability to forgive sins. He preserves the Pope from error when he teaches that it is necessary to confess your sins to a priest. To doubt these things is to doubt Jesus himself. But many people would rather have their imaginary truth rather than have Truth itself. We cannot doubt the necessity of the sacraments without doubting what Christ himself taught.
Thomas doubted. But when faced with the Truth itself he said: “My Lord and my God.” We too need to put our faith in The Truth. Not the truth we wish to believe. But Truth Himself. There and only their will we experience the mercy we seek. There and only there can our sufferings be truly alleviated. There and only their can we find rest for our souls.
Confession is given to us as an act of mercy. He does not give it to us to burden us. The Lord says it himself: I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. Mercy is tender and the Lord’s mercy is deep. Oceans of graces are their if we only approach. He wants to take our burden from us but first we must approach. Take it from one who practices what he preaches. I go to confession every few weeks. Why because without it the burden would be too great and I would be crushed beneath my sins.
One of the main prayers that came out of the devotion to divine mercy is “Jesus, I trust in you” I do and I hope you will too. Listen to His words in Matt 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” One way or another you will be yoked. You will be yoked to slavery or you will be yoked to Christ. You will bear a burden one way or the other. Ultimately though you choose which cross you will carry. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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