Sunday, April 27, 2014

2nd Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday

            It’s been said that Jesus’ other name—God’s other name—is mercy.
Let the house of Israel say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’  Let the house of Aaron say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’  Let those who fear the LORD say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’”  St. Peter writes basically the same in his first letter: “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…”
Mercy is one of those Christian words we use or hear frequently.  But what, exactly, is mercy?  According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, mercy is “…compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power.”  We might tweak this secular definition and simplify it in the process.  Mercy is simply love trumping justice.  Mercy is what we celebrate on the second Sunday of Easter—Divine Mercy Sunday—and is the basic foundation of our faith.
I hope you know you can always receive God’s mercy.  You can never be away from God too long to come back.  Nothing you can do cannot be forgiven.  God doesn’t sit upstairs thinking, “Get it right and get back to me!” or, “I can’t wait to condemn you!” or, “I told you not to do that!” 
Remember the great parable of God’s mercy: the Prodigal Son.  This rebellious son asked for his father’s inheritance, moved away and wasted all of this money in debauchery before having a conversion, returning home and saying sorry to his dad.  Where was the father during this time?  He was waiting on the road for his son to come home.  He wanted to take his son back into his arms and lavish his love upon him.
One of the greatest joys of being a priest is the humbling role of representing God’s mercy.  When I’m in the Confession and hear, “Bless me, father, for I have sinned.  I haven’t been to Confession in decades and I have no idea what I am doing,” my heart leaps with joy.  What an honor to be there for you to absolve sins!
Please receive God’s mercy, primarily in Confession.  After I greet you after Mass I will head to the confessional.  I’ll even wait for my donut Sunday to begin!  (That’s how much I will sacrifice for you!)  If it has been a while, please come and soak in God’s forgiveness and love.
Also, as we receive God’s mercy we must show mercy to others: “…forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Are you a person who shows mercy?  Do you let love trump justice with your spouse, children, coworkers, those who annoy you, those on the opposite side of the political platform or even enemies?
As we conclude the glorious octave of Easter, remember what our faith is all about: mercy.

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