Saturday, April 26, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday

Jesus, I Trust in You

(photo from St. Joan of Arc Parish)

Dear Friends,

After many years of listening to the struggles in the hearts of many penitents, I know the graces of this particular day of celebrating the mercy of God abound for every sinner.  At the same time I have come to recognize that the way we have learned about sin, forgiveness, confession etc. is too often wrapped in guilt.  So tight was God's mercy wrapped that many fail to understand fully the abundant love and kindness of God.  For many mercy has to be bought.  It is not there for us unless we throw ourselves on the sword of our own inability to accept the reality of divine mercy.

No doubt admitting to sinfulness is difficult.  Why?  Because, I believe, we have missed the real meaning of divine mercy.  How many times did we hear the words "Do not be afraid." come from the lips of St. John Paul II!  Many times.  He was man who was so closely linked with God in understanding how intense God's love for us was and forever will be.  Today pray to this new saint for a deeper understanding of so great a mystery and gift.

For many accepting God's forgiveness is difficult.  Why?  Again, because do not understand God's mercy.  Jesus taught us the answer:  "God has forgiven us."  Repeat:  God has forgiven us!  His words were not "God will forgive you."  Quite a difference, isn't it?"  In our growing up we learned so many ways of wrapping up God's forgiveness.  We seemed to make it His mercy so mysterious that we had to punish ourselves just to get a peek at it.

Recall, if you will, the time the Risen Christ questioned Peter about his love.  "Do you love me, Peter?"  Three times Jesus places the question to him.  What is missing in Jesus' acceptance of Peter's honesty about himself, about his love for Jesus:  "You know that I love you."  Jesus does not question Peter about his failures, does he?  Not once.  He just wants to have Peter say it:  Yes, Jesus, I do love you!  How difficult that must have been for Peter.  Yet, what was Jesus response to Peter statement of his love for him?  "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep."  Jesus entrusting to Peter awesome responsibilities.  It was not something like "Now face your sinfulness and ask for my forgiveness."  Not at all!  Peter, I am entrusting to you my lambs, my sheep.  To you I give the keys for my church!
Again, without any extraction of sinfulness, Peter is given divine mercy!

Stand on Calvary and hear what Jesus said to his Father as he neared his final breath:  "Father, forgiven them."  Even before those who brought about his death realized their faults, he has forgiven them by asking the Father's forgiveness.  

And recall another moment:  "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven."  Jesus did not say, "Their sins will be forgiven."  THEY ARE FORGIVEN.  You live under the compassion of  DIVINE MERCY.

Let me share words from a Jesuit priest writer:  "The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not to wipe away our faults.  It is to make us more loving....  It is to show we believe that the wrongs done can bury us in shame, but we choose another option; they will make us more honest to ourselves and humble to those around us."  These words can help us better understand the reason behind Jesus' talk and questions with Peter.  This insight of the priest teach us again the awesome gift of Divine Mercy.

Again let us pray today to St. John Paul II to intercede for the graces to set ourselves free from wrapping God's Divine Mercy so tightly that we prevent ourselves and others from knowing and sharing the greatest gift of God to each of us sinners.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Milt