Divine Mercy Sunday

Gospel John 20:19-31 

Today our Lord has brought us together to celebrate His love and mercy, for humanity manifested through His death and Resurrection. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to be with you and celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday. And I take this opportunity to also thank the Parish Priests, Fr Jorge and Fr John. Perhaps as you all know that Fr Jorge’s mother was buried yesterday. I want to ask you now to stand for a minute in silence and pray for her repose… May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

I want to also thank you for allowing me to bid farewell to you before I leave for Kimberley Diocese. I thank the Lord for the pastoral journey that we travelled together. When I was ordained by Turffontein and as the Auxiliary Bishop, I cherish all the memories that we created together, which for me are a testimony of God’s love for us and it is fitting that we bid farewell to each other through the celebration of the Eucharist. St. Patrick’s has been my home for the past ten years or more and I will always be grateful for you, my brothers and sisters in this Parish, for I always felt welcomed. And a big thank you to the Scalabrini Fathers. I will continue to pray for all of you and please, do also pray for me. I am where I am because of your prayers. As I move to Kimberley, I also want to entrust you, my brothers and sisters, in this Parish of St. Patrick’s, to the protection of the Divine Mercy. I also ask you to entrust me and my new Ministry in Kimberley to the protection of the Divine Mercy. Our salvation and our Ministry cannot depend on our personal efforts alone; they depend on our trust in God’s mercy. You will forever be in my heart.

Talking about mercy – mercy of the Sisters of Mercy. There is a joke about the payment of a bill at the Sisters of Mercy hospital. A man was brought to Mercy hospital for surgery and the operation went well. The sister went by his bed and said to the man, ‘You are going to be just fine. We want to know how you are going to pay for your stay here. Are you covered by insurance?’ He responded, ‘No, I’m not.’ The sister asked, ‘Can you pay in cash?’ He replied, ‘I’m afraid I can’t.’ The sister continued, ‘Do you have any close relatives?’ The patient replied, ‘Just my sister in New Mexico but she’s a spinster nun.’ The sister said, ‘Nuns are not spinsters, Mr Smith. They are married to Jesus.’ The man said with a smile, ‘Ok then, send the bill to Jesus my brother in law.’

Today what comes to mind when we heard the Readings, especially the Gospel Reading, is about forgive and forget. I believe everyone has heard this phrase – forgive and forget – at least once in their lifetime. Most of us agree that is easier said than done. Have you ever stopped and thought of what it really means? And most likely you think it means move on or get over it, don’t be so sensitive. Well I have good news for you. Forgive and forget doesn’t mean that your disappointments, betrayals, pains, offences and hurt never happened. Instead it reveals the truth about our weakened human nature and our ministry as dispensers of the Divine Mercy.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were created in an original state of holiness and justice, and they were free from an inclination of concupiscence to sin. We read about this also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. With their sin however, they lost this original state, sadly not only for themselves but for us too. And for as Adam, all died, so also in Christ, shall all be made alive. By Baptism, the sin of Adam and Eve or the original sin as we know, actual or personal sin, and the eternal punishment due to them, are forgiven. The door to the Kingdom of God is open and the gift of eternal life is received by the baptised. Notwithstanding the baptised carry the wound or the inclination to sin and that sin is created from Adam and Eve. The effect of this wound is our weakened human nature or human frailties.

Interestingly, God has a perfect knowledge of us and our fallen human nature. He knows that we have inherited a human nature deprived of the original holiness and justice and He knows that we are inclined to sin and evil and therefore isn’t amazed by our sins and shortcomings. There is no amount of sin we commit that can surprise God. With this perfect knowledge of us comes the Divine Mercy. The evidence is in John 3:16, who put it so beautifully – For God so loved the world that He gave His only, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

But despite this, we need to be strong and courageous; we need to be afraid or be in dread of our fallen human nature. For the Lord our God is with us, He will not leave us or forsake us and there is still hope for each and every one of us. Whatever you might be going through in your life, my dear brother and sister, never surrender and never give up.

The Season of Easter is a reminder of this hope, we are capable of such good through the Risen Christ and for Jesus is the phase of the Divine Mercy. He is the Divine Mercy. By His words, actions and His entire person, says Pope Francis, we become ministers of the Divine Mercy by imitating Him. To become ministers of the Divine Mercy is to know that we are all weak and imperfect. As we decide to forgive and forget one another’s failings, the phrase forgive and forget is then an intention to be Christ like. It means imitating Christ who knows that we are sinners and decides to make peace with us. It is an acceptance of what we can’t change, we are inclined to sin and we are imperfect. We can’t change the reality of our fallen human nature. To forgive and forget is to make peace with our true human nature. It is in our nature to betray, hurt and disappoint one another. When we experience acts of love and kindness from anybody, thank God for His grace on that person. We are only able to do good through the grace of God and this knowledge must bring us peace and lead us to make peace with our past offences and hurts. None of us are perfect. Anyone who is perfect here, raise your hand. Sometimes we behave as if we are better than other people, we judge them, and we say things about them. You and I are works in progress and working towards perfection.

Now for the Resurrection of Jesus and while the apostolic mission was about to begin, Jesus entrusts to His apostles the ministry of Divine Mercy. He gives them the authority to forgive and to reconcile repentant sinners. Remarkably before entrusting this ministry to them, Jesus shows them the wounds of the Passion. For from these wounds come the Divine Mercy that healed our fallen human nature.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday the Church reminds each and every one of us that we are all ministers of Jesus, the Divine Mercy. Through the grace of His Resurrection may we liberate ourselves from our past offences, let go of those hurts, betrayals and disappointments, and in this way we can truly forgive and forget our neighbours’ shortcomings. Today we need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives. One way the Church celebrates God’s Mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. Similarly the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy that we practice in our daily lives can become eligible for God’s merciful judgement. May St. Faustina and Pope St. John Paul II pray for us. Jesus I trust in You.

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