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Sunday, April 19, 2020

2020-04-19 Mercy Sunday

Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Today ends the Octave of Easter and is also Mercy Sunday. The Gospel has two parts. The first part is when Jesus appeared on the day of his Resurrection. Jesus appears to the disciples despite closed doors. He gives them his peace and because of their shock in seeing him alive, he gives them his peace again. He then commissions them: As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Many take this commission as a command to go and help our neighbor, to be nice to them. But how did the Father send Jesus? He sent Jesus to preach repentance through the Gospel, healing and doing wonders as he preached. Jesus was obedient to the Father and spoke only what the Father wanted. Jesus died and Jesus is raised from the dead. This is how the Father sent Jesus: in total self-giving of self to the Father.
Jesus said he does the things he sees the Father does. So when we see Jesus giving himself fully to the Father, we can conclude the Father gives himself fully to Jesus. This emptying of Jesus is total obedience in trust of the Father. Jesus also said the things the Father says. Jesus does not speak his opinions. This is what mercy is all about.
God’s mercy is about him, giving himself fully, completely so we can learn to trust him and obey him. In a sense, we can also empty ourselves to him in total abandonment. This total abandonment of Jesus to his Father is seen in his death and proven by his Resurrection. Jesus sends the Apostles not to do good works, not to preach the Gospel. BUT TO BE A WITNESS OF HIS RESURRECTION! The witnessing to the Resurrection is so important that Jesus appears to Thomas, the only Apostle who did not see him when he first appeared to them the week before. This is the second part of the Gospel. If Thomas was to be a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he had to be convinced Jesus rose from the dead. Which is why Jesus told Thomas to put his finger in his hands and in the wound on his side. Did Thomas put his finger in the hands and side of Jesus? John did not say. Instead, Thomas went beyond doubting to believing and answered: My Lord and my God. In those few words, Thomas summed up the Gospel: Jesus is Lord and God. Doubting Thomas is probably the only person in Scripture to declare clearly that Jesus is God! Peter declared Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
The First Reading gives us an idea of how the Early Church remained faithful to the Gospel: they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. What is interesting is a sentence after this, there is mentioned again: Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread in various houses … The breaking of bread is mentioned twice that this indicates the breaking of bread is central to the fellowship. The early community devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. This means that the breaking of bread is taught by the Apostles and they did this Day by day, meaning everyday! We see then the celebration of the breaking of bread is central to their faith. Even the teaching of the Apostles was not mentioned as being done day by day. This breaking of the bread has been done in the Catholic Church daily, since the time of the Apostles. It is even being done daily, privately, despite the cancellation of public masses.
The Breaking of Bread reminds us of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is the source and summit of our faith because the Bread that is broken is the Body and Blood of Jesus! What we receive is Jesus himself and not just bread and wine. The Eucharist is the proof of God’s divine mercy that he wants to still be physically with us, in our midst, that he transforms the bread and wine to his Body and Blood through the words of the priest.
The Second Reading speaks of God, by his great mercy, has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Through the Resurrection, God gives us a new life of hope. He proves there is hope in the resurrection by giving us his sacramental presence so we can have hope, to prove what the Psalm says today: his steadfast love endures forever. That even when we are pushed hard, and falling, he helps us. He is our strength and our might and is our salvation.
Divine Mercy shows us the mercy of God because of his love that endures forever. This is a free gift from God and those who ask will receive this gift. How should we ask? Jesus revealed to St Faustina, the greater the sinner, the greater is his right to my mercy. There is no sin Jesus cannot forgive. You may have done the worst evil, Jesus will forgive you as long as you come to him and ask him
Are you living in sin? Do you want a live of freedom from guilt for what you have done. Jesus is here, waiting for you to ask for his mercy, so he can heal you, and forgive you. Nothing shall separate you from his love, because he loves you just as you are. Do not doubt, but believe, that Jesus died for you and he wants to heal you. Do not be afraid. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. He calls you. Ask for his mercy and healing.
Lord, I come to you as a sinner, begging for your mercy. I am overwhelmed by my situation. I am overwhelmed by my guilt, by my sins. Here I am, take me as your child. I completely surrender my life to you, striving to imitate you as you perfectly surrendered yourself to the Father. Have mercy on me Lord because I trust in you.

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