18 April 2009

Dominica de Divina Misericordia - Divine Mercy Sunday

I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy... on the first Sunday after Easter. ~Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska #49

It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called Divine Mercy Sunday. ~Homily of Pope John Paul II at the Canonization of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, April 30, 2000

Acts 4:32-35

The opening verse in this Reading is perhaps the origin of monastic life.

Saint John Chrysostom points out how happy society would be if it operated in this manner. Those who had much would be able to share with those who had little or nothing.

Material wealth supplies many of our physical needs but it can also enrich our spiritual lives if we realize that all we have belongs to God; and the reason we have it is because it has been entrusted to us by the Almighty. Our Lord is very clear about this as He Himself says in Psalm 49 (50): “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, since the world and all it holds is Mine.”

Great favor was accorded them all as those that were present possessed extraordinary graces and zeal.

As Christians, we bear witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We serve Him and love Him. Charity should be at the heart of our love and service for we cannot serve and love Jesus if we ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters.

1 John 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Redeemer of the world, is begotten by God and we are justified by becoming a child of God through the waters of baptism. Other conditions for justification are a general belief of all that God has revealed and promised; hope, love, repentance, and a sincere disposition to keep God’s holy law and commandments.

We love the children of God when we love God and obey His commandments, for love of God and of our neighbor are inseparable; the one is known and proved by the other. And His commandments are not burdensome as long as we are not carried away with worldly possessions and passions.

When staying focused on the promises of eternal happiness, then the yoke of Christ will be sweet and His burden light.

The victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? All that is really required of us is to have faith in Who Jesus is and truly believe in the example He gave us. We are not Christians because of the works we perform; we are Christians because of what Jesus did; and if we believe in Him, then our faith will naturally move us to perform charitable works.

Beyond the inconvenience, our trials and sufferings allow us to see for ourselves how faithful we are.

John 20:19-31

The doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst. Our human minds can’t comprehend how Jesus was able to do this but by faith we must know that if His Body is capable of walking through locked doors, then that same Body is also capable of being hidden under the appearance of bread and wine.

Jesus shows the apostles His Hands and His Side and then tells them, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” Jesus has now given them their mission to bring the Good News to all nations. He showed them His Wounds so that they would not speculate whether or not it was really Him. Being actual witnesses would give their preaching much credibility.

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.” With these words Jesus has now given to His apostles and their successors the power and authority to forgive sins. The words “receive the Holy Spirit,” is understood to mean that at this point the apostles received some portion of spiritual grace but not to the extent that they would receive at Pentecost. Just men and women since the beginning of creation were sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit as the apostles were in this Gospel text. Since Jesus established the forgiveness of sins in this manner, a Catholic is urged to confess their sins to the priest because the priest is appointed by God to be a physician of the soul.

Can we go directly to Christ without the use of an ordained priest? Maybe -- but that’s not how Jesus set it up.

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. He wouldn’t believe that the other apostles had seen Jesus unless he was able to see and touch the Wounds of Jesus. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember that when Jesus appeared to the others, He showed them His Wounds. The Holy Spirit arranged for Thomas to be absent so that when he did see Jesus and touch His Wounds, the words “my Lord and my God” would echo until the end of time. These words should strengthen our faith as Jesus proclaims that we are blessed because we have not seen, but we believe.