From the desk of Fr Stephen Apr 11, 2021

From the desk of Fr Stephen

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.  We recall the infinite mercy God shows us, his children, in the forgiveness of our sins.  And as a loving parent, on this day, we remember not just God’s forgiveness but His mercy in holding back the punishment due us for our disobedience.  God’s mercy is abundant, and we need also to be merciful with others.  In some ways, this is the main problem with our world, the lack of forgiveness. But more importantly, the lack of mercy shown to those who may have offended us.

In our Mass today, the Gospel is taken from St. John; this is one of my favorite gospel readings.  It always occurs on the Sunday after Easter.  The Disciples are praying together, and Jesus appears to them; this is the first time they have seen Him after He has risen from the dead.  Thomas is not there, and so we have the whole scene about the other disciples telling him Jesus had risen.  But that is not why I like this Gospel reading.  I like it because the first thing Jesus says when he appears is “Peace be with you.”  Everyone in the room needs to hear these words.  Everyone is in a state of anxiety because of what has happened.  None of the disciples can fully appreciate the impact of what Jesus has done for them.  And so he says Peace to them.  He wants them to be at peace for a variety of reasons.  They need to hear this message because they saw him die a horrible death, but also because many of them had denied or abandoned him.  Jesus does not point his finger at them and tell them they should be ashamed of themselves because of their unfaithfulness.  No, he wishes them peace.  With this invitation to peace, they learn that God is not a vindictive God but one of forgiveness and mercy.  God does not punish us as our deeds deserve but offers us reconciliation.

As I noted earlier, this is a message the world needs to hear.  The world needs to know that God is a loving and merciful God and that we, as His messengers, should also exhibit the characteristics of love and forgiveness.  Sometimes people need to see Jesus’ message acted out in real life.  It isn’t always enough to read about Jesus in a book.  The people of the world need to see Jesus’ message lived out by us, His followers.  Nothing will change unless we are convinced that each of us needs to be the bearer of this change.  It is not enough for us to talk the talk. We must walk the walk just as Jesus says to his disciples today, “Peace be with you,” we must also say this to one another.  This peace must challenge us to deeper mercy in our lives.  When we are merciful, it breaks down the barriers that separate us from one another.  When we are treated with mercy, it allows us to be more merciful ourselves.  As I see it, this is the only way our little corner of the world is going to change.  Have a great week!