Homily for the Second Week of Easter, Divine Merch Sunday by Fr. Gerard Jonas
19 April 2020
Acts 2,42-47; Peter1,3-9; John20,19-31
“Peace be with you,” the Risen Lord greeted his Apostles as he showed them his wounds. Why show his wounds? And why still the wounds in his glorious state as the Risen Lord? Is it to rebuke his apostles for having failed him, for leaving him, for denying him by showing them the cost of their failure to stand by him? Far from it. Actually, the opposite of it. He brings peace to appease their sorrow, their regret, their fear and anxieties, their uncertainty- all human weaknesses. Expressive of his loving mercy, the apostles were graced with the chance to recover, to regenerate. Pope Francis said, “the Wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy.” They invite us to enter into the mystery of his merciful love. The glorious wounds of Jesus continue to “bind him to our human condition” and expose the “inexhaustible source of light and truth, of love and forgiveness” – of mercy, said St Pope John Paul II.
Yes, it is alright to be vulnerable. It opens us up for God’s divine mercy. We are not forsaken in our weaknesses. Christ has redeemed us.
“See and touch the wounds in my hands and my side. Recall how redeeming blood and water flowed from my side,” Jesus seems to say.
Today, we behold woundedness all around us. There is so much violence, death, threat to life and uncertainty lurking around us. And in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Enhanced Community Quarantine had to be imposed. What does the future hold for us now that the economy is not just at a standstill but is in a steep decline? It is easy to cower as the Apostles did. But let us welcome Jesus, as they also did. Let us welcome his Divine Mercy as they did.
The Risen Lord brings new life. “Peace be with you.” This did not just bring consolation to the grieving Apostles, it gave them joy! Then the Risen Lord put them to task. “As the Father sent me so I send you.” Breathing on them Jesus exhorted them, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” This is the new life that the Risen Christ brings, the life of mercy. We are entrusted as dispensers of God’s mercy. This moved Peter in his Letter to exclaim, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…”.
Thanks to Thomas, amidst our weaknesses, we can also acclaim, “My Lord and My God.” Yes, with God there is always hope. As St. Pope John Paul II said, “God’s merciful love continues to spread over men and women of our time.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI adds, “It is mercy that puts an end to evil.” Amidst the pandemic, many people have awakened from self-centeredness. Front liners who risk their lives are acknowledged and thanked. In a simple act of graciousness, musicians pull together their talents, even while in isolation, to uplift the human spirit with their music.
In the Cistercian Rite of Profession, both Simple and Solemn the first question asked the candidate is “What do you seek?” To which he responds: “The mercy of God and of the Order.” Yes, it is only in God’s mercy that we can live out our monastic vows of Obedience, Stability and Conversion of Life or Fidelity to the Monastic Life. So, we may say that the call to monastic life is the call to a life of mercy, mercy from God and mercy from and towards each other.
Indeed, mercy is our vocation not just as Cistercians but as Christians, for Jesus says, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” This echoes what God said through the Prophet Hosea. This is further reiterated by Jesus in a message to St Faustina, “I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for me.”
Finally, Cardinal Luis Tagle reminds, “Let us not forget that we were saved at the cost of Jesus’ blood. We are products of mercy.”
And in establishing the Second Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Divine mercy is the Easter gift of the Risen Lord to the Church.”
So, let us relish and live by this great Easter Gift of the Risen Lord. Let us trust in Jesus in his Divine Mercy and be dispensers of this grace of mercy to each other.
B well and stay well!