YEAR B: HOMILY FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
THEME: SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION
BY: Fr. Anthony Kadavil
Chaplain, Sacred Heart Home, Mobile, AL
HOMILY: The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, in sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord through His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, instituted to sanctify us.
The first reading, taken from Acts, stresses the corporal acts of mercy practiced by the early Christian community before the Jews and the Romans started persecuting them. Practicing the sharing love, compassion and the mercy of God as Jesus taught, this witnessing community derived its strength from community prayer, “the Breaking of the Bread” and the apostles’ teaching read at the worship service.
The second reading: taken from John’s first Letter, deals with practicing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy by obeying God’s Old Testament commandments and focusing on Jesus’ commandment of loving others as He loves us, with selfless, sacrificial, agape love. Loving others as Jesus loves us also demands that we treat others with God’s mercy and compassion.
Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord gave his apostles 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). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28), the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed Divine mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.
2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service. The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer. c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”