THEME: DIVINE MERCY
READINGS: Acts 4:32-35/ 1 John 5:1-7/ John 20:19-31
2nd Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Mercy is ‘a kind or forgiving attitude towards somebody that you have the power to harm or right to punish’ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
Divine Mercy is, therefore, God’s kind or forgiving attitude towards us who deserve His punishment as a result of our sins.
God’s kind or forgiving attitude towards us, according to Pope Francis, ‘has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth’ (Misericordiae vultus, no. 1). Jesus Christ, the Pope continues, ‘is the face of the Father’s mercy. … Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn. 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God’ (MV no. 1).
Jesus Christ, the face of the Father’s mercy, demonstrated and continues to demonstrate divine mercy in many ways. Let us look at some of these ways:
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy in washing the feet of Judas Iscariot, even though He knew that Judas would betray Him.
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy in washing the feet of Peter, even though He knew that Peter would deny Him three times.
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy in washing the feet of the rest of the Apostles, even though He knew that they would desert Him.
Beloved, even today, Jesus, because of His great mercy, continues to wash the feet of those who betray, deny or desert Him. Jesus knows that after washing, not just our feet, but our souls in baptism, we will sometimes betray Him by becoming the cause of someone losing their faith or not believing in Jesus; we will sometimes deny Him by not confidently or publicly expressing our faith in Jesus; or we will sometimes desert Him by our unfaithfulness, yet Jesus washes away our sins.
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy by feeding Judas Iscariot at the Last Supper, even though He knew that Judas would betray Him.
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy by feeding Peter at the Last Supper, even though He knew that Peter would deny Him three times.
Jesus demonstrated divine mercy in feeding the rest of the Apostles, even though He knew that they would desert Him.
Beloved, even today, Jesus, because of His great mercy, continues to feed those who betray, deny or desert Him. Jesus knows that after feeding us with His most precious Body and Blood, we will sometimes betray, deny or desert Him, yet He continues to feed us, because of His great mercy.
Again, Jesus demonstrated divine mercy by forgiving, while in the great pains on the cross, those who betrayed, denied, deserted, falsely accused, unjustly tortured, unjustly condemned, unjustly crucified and unfairly mocked Him.
Beloved, even, today, Jesus continues to demonstrate divine mercy by showing us kindness and forgiving us, despite the pains our sins cause His Sacred Heart.
‘Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends’, so says our Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:13). But how can our Lord call ‘friends’ those who betray, deny, desert, falsely accuse, unjustly condemn, or unjustly crucify Him? Only, divine or unlimited mercy makes this possible!
Furthermore, how can the Lord, who foresaw and predicted the denial by Peter (who then responded that he would die with the Lord but actually failed to do so), predicted the desertion by the rest of the Apostles (who then responded like Peter, but likewise failed), not demand an apology on the evening of His resurrection, but rather say to them: ‘Peace be with you’ (John 20:21; the gospel reading)? This is truly the demonstration of divine or ineffable mercy!
Beloved, divine mercy is infectious. Those who experience divine mercy should automatically become carriers of God’s mercy to others. Hence, according to today’s gospel reading, after Jesus had forgiven the Apostles, He entrusted them with the ministry of bringing others to encounter God’s mercy. Thus, He told them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven’ (John 20:22-23).
Therefore, beloved, as much as we enjoy God’s kindness and forgiveness in spite of our many and repeated sins, may we become ambassadors of God’s mercy: (i) by telling family, friends and our other neighbours that God’s kindness and forgiveness abound in spite of our sins, and (ii) by actually showing kindness and forgiveness to those who trespass against us.
Beloved, to conclude, I wish to recall a command of our Lord which is so dear to Pope Francis: ‘Be merciful, just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36). This verse should guide how we always relate with family, friends and other neighbours. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis