DETAILED HOMILY FOR 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY)
HOMILY THEME: THE UNDESERVING MERCY OF GOD
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
R1 – Acts 5:12-16
R2 – Rev 1:9-11,12-13,17-19
GOSPEL – John 20:19-31
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY: 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.”
Beloved in Christ, today is the second Sunday of Easter; traditionally called Divine Mercy Sunday. The Feast of Divine Mercy was instituted by Pope John Paul II on the 30th of April, 2000 at the canonization of Sr. Faustina Kowalska in response to the task, the Lord Jesus assigned to St Faustina during her short life.
These three basic tasks include:
(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.
However, every Second Sunday of the Easter season, the church invites us to explore and reflect on God’s infinite and undeserving love cum 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.
In the Gospel reading, we experience Jesus’ first appearance to his disciples after the resurrection, in which he charged and commissioned them with the mission of showing mercy to sinners and forgiving their sins. We all know that, before the crucifixion, the disciples of Jesus betrayed and abandoned him. They ran away just when He needed them the most. And now they were huddled together in one room, with the doors locked in fear of the Jews. But what really troubled them was the news about the resurrection of their Master. They were ashamed to face Him and afraid to be reprimanded by Him. But when He appeared to them, He did not have any trace of bitterness, anger or accusation against them. His greeting was, “Peace!” This is because, he noticed the panic and shame of beholding him that enveloped them. Then He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and gave them power to forgive others as well. Some of them, especially Thomas, entertained doubts, but Jesus patiently led him to the truth of His resurrection. There was no reprimand and condemnation, but only an overflowing abundance of mercy, forgiveness, and love.
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*THE FEATURES OF GOD’S UNDESERVING MERCY*
In the Gospel, we see how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation – a Sacrament of Divine Mercy. Jesus gave his apostles and their successors 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).
The M.E.R.C.Y. of God has alot of outstanding features that Differentiate it from every other based on its acronyms:
(i) *M – un-MERITED*
Divine Mercy is unmerited in the sense that it is undeserving. It is only the grace of God that qualifies us to become partakers of Divine Mercy. That is why St Paul testifies, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace” (1 Cor. 15:10).
(ii) *E – EVERLASTING*
God’s mercy is everlasting and without limits. That is why Lamentations 3:23 captures it, “His mercies never come to an end and they are renewed every morning.”
(iii) *R – RESTORING*
God’s mercy brings about restoration of lost friendship with God. We regain our sonship with the Divine and reclaim our dominion anointing of Gen 1:28. We recall God’s promise to restore the years eaten by the locust after experiencing his M.E.R.C.Y. (Joel 2:25).
(iv) *C – COMPASSIONATE*
God’s merciful love is not without compassion. Compassion is the bedrock of God’s mercy on us. The Psalmist assures us that the Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and rich in love (Ps 145:8).
(v) *Y – YIELDING*
God’s Mercy is quite yielding, in the sense that it spurs us to give up our own ways, ideas and efforts, and put ourselves in God’s hand – yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
(1) *EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD EXPLORE THIS INVITATION TO CELEBRATE AND PRACTICE MERCY IN OUR LIVES.*
Today’s gospel reading assures us in Jesus’ ipsissima verba (exact words),
“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained” (Jn 20:23); that the Sacrament of Penance is not of human invention; rather of Divine.
Therefore, every believer must explore this invitation by always attending the confessional before the priest to confess our sins.
(2) *GOD’S MERCY SHOULD BE GIVEN A HUMAN FACE*
The abundance of God’s mercy that has kept us going as the chosen race should be reciprocated in our neighbours. We can only give God’s mercy a human face when we learn to give others second chance to change their ways and get reconciled with us. Remember, it’s undeserving. It is no longer M.E.R.C.Y. when we deserve it. It is simply unmerited.
Finally, in 1984, TIME Magazine, presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a blue 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 would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 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. 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.”
Beloved, this is just a perfect example of the human face of God’s Divine Mercy. Again and again, it is undeserving.
MAY THE FEAST OF DIVINE MERCY GRANT US THE SPIRITUAL YEARNING FOR THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION AND EQUALLY IGNITE IN US, THE HUMAN HEART THAT FORGIVES AND GRANTS MERCY TO OTHERS.
God bless you!
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