Divine Mercy Sunday 2010
From Readings:, Acts 5:12-16, Psalm 118, Revelations 1:9-11, John 20: 19-31
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
(Like new born children you should thirst for milk, on which your spirit can grow to strengthen, alleluia, alleluia) these are the opening words of Mass for this Sunday. It is a beautiful simile for the grace and love of God. Milk without guile, meaning without cunning, craftiness or deceit. A milk that is sweet and nourishing and with which a new born can grow healthy and strong. That is what the grace of God can do for those who seek it out.
The liturgy for this Sunday is dedicated to Divine Mercy of Almighty God. The image of Divine Mercy shows Christ glorified with rainbow rays emanating from His Sacred Heart and His hand raised in blessing. It is a graphic picture of how God's heart is filled with love and mercy for all of His children with no exception.
Today is also the anniversary of the founding of our order Franciscans of Divine Mercy.
Most of us grew up with the image of a vengeful God who weighed our good and bad deeds and always seemed ready to condemn us to the fires of Hell if I but made one small mistake. I lived in fear as a young man that I would die and go to hell because I masturbated or told a lie. It never dawned on me that as a mere human I would always be found wanting and never become perfect because only God is perfect.
The God proclaimed by Christ in Scripture a God of infinite mercy, love, forgiveness and generosity somehow did not sink in possibly because all the preachers ranted hellfire and damnation instead of mercy and love.
It wasn't until I began to really study scripture and take my courses in Theology that I began to see a God who shattered all the laws and ideas of not only mere mortals but of the Jewish tradition that He grew up with.
Christ introduced a new path to follow, a path of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, understanding, love and of grace. The path to God was one of caring for our brothers and sisters, of being the Good Samaritan to those we found in need. God's Grace is given freely to us all we are required to do is turn to Him and request it and try to live as Christ instructed us.
It is truly appropriate that the Sunday after Easter be dedicated to the Divine Mercy of God through Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God is "the God of all grace". Throughout all the New Testament we find affirming words concerning God's grace. "But Jesus said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:19) and "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—(Ephesians 2:8) and "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (Ephesians 4:7) "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)
Let us not be like the Apostle Thomas in today's Gospel and the two men on the road to Emmaus who did not recognize God until he broke the bread. Don't wait to believe in Him until he shows us His wounds or performs a miracle for us. "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." John 20:25
Let us rather proclaim the words of Thomas out of faith and trust in God. "Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:28-29
The Grace of God is freely given, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and nothing we can do to make God love us less. It means that we, who as most humans, are sinners but through the Divine mercy and Love of Almighty God are invited to take our place at the table in God's family.
We gain that place at table by praying to God for His mercy and forgiveness which He also gives freely and by loving one another as God Himself loves us, unconditionally and with forgiveness and compassion for all God's children regardless of their race, creed, sexual orientation of marital status.