With the readings from both John and Acts,
as well as the theme of Divine Mercy Sunday,
I found it rather difficult to narrow down the topic for this homily.
So I picked several.
It may seem as if I’m bouncing around a bit,
but in the end it should mostly come together.
Bare with me, please!
Six times this week I’ve watched The Passion of the Christ,
the 2004 movie directed by Mel Gibson.
It was a bit controversial at the time,
but there was one scene which touched me tremendously.
Here’s the scene:
Mary sees her son Jesus fall
under the weight of the cross.
She remembers running to him when as a child he fell. Despite the crowd and the Roman soldiers,
she races to her grown son.
Raising his tortured face with her hand
she offers the comfort only a mother can give,
as she says, “I am here.”
Jesus sees and hears her,
and gives her the hope that only a divine Son can give
in such circumstances.
In this scene,
a line is inserted from Revelation 21:5.
It’s slightly reworded for the setting
since it is directed to his Virgin Mother,
“See, Mother, I make all things new.”
This is the ultimate in divine mercy.
Christ’s love for his own creation is so great
that he willingly takes on the sins of the world to bring us, you and me,
to a new beginning,
a new era.
If you went to the Vigil Mass for Easter,
you were hopefully struck
by the wash of lights at the Gloria
which heralded the New Testament readings.
Because it visibly demonstrated
the dawn of the New Testament Era –
the era of Christ,
the light of the world,
the light which dispels the darkness,
The dawn of God’s merciful redemption
The Vigil Mass is full of deep symbolism.
An article from America Magazine shares the following:
“In the mystery of his Incarnation,
God the Son comes to die.
God takes all that is ugly and old and rotten in this world
and draws it into himself.
Here death dies.
Here the old gives way to the new.
Here hope is reborn.
This is why St. John in his gospel records Jesus
speaking of his passion as his hour of glory.
Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. (Jn 13)
The image of Jesus as The Divine Mercy
Is also a powerful image.
Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina Kowalska
who was a favorite of his.
As far as I’ve learned, the image with the red and blue rays shooting out
Represent the blood and water that flowed from Jesus side.
That’s the kind of love and mercy the Lord had for each of us.
He gave his life which included the pain and suffering of his passion and death.
St. Faustina wrote this in her diary:
All my nothingness is drowned
in the sea of Your mercy.
With the confidence of a child,
I throw myself into Your arms,
O Father of Mercy.
How many of us have thrown ourselves into the arms of Christ?
The image of the Divine Mercy says at the bottom of the image,
“Jesus I Trust In You”.
Do we trust truly,
in his divine mercy?
St. Faustina knew that there is no substitute for Christ.
Hopefully we know it too.
Nothing substitutes for Christ.
That is why Jesus talks to Pontius Pilate
the way he does in the gospel of John:
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
Buddha cannot substitute for Christ.
Neither can Mohammed nor his teachings
substitute for Christ.
Other gods cannot substitute for Christ.
New Age spirituality, nature religions,
money, power, our own egos,
None of these provide salvation or redemption.
None of them!!!
Only Jesus Christ has redeemed us.
Only Jesus Christ can give us the gift of salvation.
We spend 60 or 80 or 100 years in this world
if we are fortunate,
but Christ has redeemed us for eternity.
He made this world and founded our Church
in the nitty grittiness of everyday life.
He entered into that nitty grittiness too and blessed it.
He experienced the love of his mother Mary
and his earthly father Joseph.
He probably had misunderstandings at times
and was misunderstood even in his childhood.
He made deep friendships
with Mary and Martha and Lazarus,
Peter, James and John and others.
They challenged him,
and he challenged them.
The everyday life that we live
with its frustrations and temptations and the unexpected problems
is at the heart of our everyday human experiences.
We don’t, as Catholics, seek to escape this world
but we embrace it as a means to salvation.
Just as Jesus embraced the world.
God’s creation was and is good
And the incarnation brought a unique sanctification to these mortal bodies of ours.
We use the materials of the world,
good materials made by God to bring us to God.
Bread and wine – for the Eucharist
Water – in Baptism, simple water
Olive oil/Sacred Oils blessed by the bishop – for Anointing the Sick, Anointing
of Catechumens, Confirmation,
The sexual intimacy which seals the Sacrament of Marriage
The laying on of the Bishop’s hands and rubbing Chrism Oil on the hands of priests
The spoken words and priestly presence of Reconciliation.
Pope St. Leo the Great captured the deepest meaning
of the Mass when he wrote,
And so what our redeemer made evident
(in his presence among us)
has passed over into the sacraments.
Today’s readings are all about the mercy of God.
The incarnation is all about the mercy of God.
The crucifixion is all about God’s mercy.
And the gospel reading emphasizes God mercy
in the very earthy element of Christ breathing
on the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit
and sending them out into this material world
to forgive sin
and to announce the Kingdom of God.
We sometimes get to feeling like there is no hope
When times are bad.
We can get discouraged easily
when a job doesn’t come through
Or our marriage is faltering.
We can experience great loss
And wonder why God is punishing me
Or even whether God cares.
But Jesus is divine mercy
He’s walked in our shoes
and suffered our pains and our temptations
and in doing so,
nd in his crucifixion,
he has made all things new
and proves that he will be with us at all times.
This is divine mercy.
This is God’s infinite mercy.