Homily – Mercy Sunday MMXII 4/15/12
When the Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles that first Easter Sunday Night, St. John says He showed them His hands and his side. And, The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord’s wounds, now glorified in His risen body.
And just as there are Five Glorified Wounds in the Risen Body of Jesus that the Apostles rejoiced over, so today’s Gospel gives us Five Glorious Fruits of the Resurrection which you and I and every believe can rejoice over.
And in the Spirit of the Fathers of the Church, who loved to do such things, and at the risk of making this sound a bit contrived, I’m going to relate each of these Five Fruits of the Resurrection with one of the Five Glorious Wounds of Christ.
The First Fruit of the Resurrection comes from one of the pierced Feet of the Risen Jesus, and this First Fruit is that the Resurrection turns Fear into Joy.
Before the Resurrection, the Apostles ran away from the Cross, ran away from doing God’s will, ran and hid from the hostile outside world, out of fear of all these things.
But after the grace of the Resurrection, the Apostles no longer feared the Cross, no longer feared sin and temptation, no longer feared persecution for the Faith, rather their fear was transformed into Joy that Jesus had conquered all these things.
Blessed Pope John Paul II, who died 7 years ago on the Eve of this Divine Mercy Sunday, was a man who had tremendous Crosses in his life, but because of his great faith in Christ’s Resurrection he would tell people everywhere he traveled “Be Not Afraid! Christ is Risen, and is with us always!”
The Second Fruit of the Resurrection corresponds to the other pierced foot of the Risen Lord, and it is that the Resurrection breaks down all barriers.
We see Jesus in the Gospel taking those two pierced feet of his, and walking right through a locked door so that the people he loved so much could encounter Him.
And just as Jesus back then went through a lock door, so today Jesus can get through a locked heart, a heart imprisoned in sin and sadness, a heart that has rejected God and lock Him out of its life – the Risen Jesus will not give up on that person, no matter what, til their last breath Jesus will touch their hearts with his grace, and patiently wait for them to open wide their hearts again to him.
The Third Fruit of the Resurrection, corresponding to the Pierced Right Hand of Jesus, is that the Resurrection bestows Peace to our souls.
The Risen Jesus lifts up that pierced hand of His (as he does in the Divine Mercy image), blesses us with it, and says Shalom – Peace be with you!
The Peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we are reconciled to God; the peace of knowing that God is with us amidst our trials; the peace of knowing that we will be reunited with our deceased loved ones in Heaven.
The Peace that enables us to love our enemies and forgive those who sin against us, that enables us to hold out our hand and shake the hand of a brother or sister, in a gesture of peace and friendship and reconciliation.
The fourth Fruit, corresponding to the pierced left hand of the Risen Lord, is that the Resurrection dispels all doubt and imparts a concrete and lasting Faith on believers.
We see the Risen Jesus in today’s Gospel holding up that pierced left hand of His and saying “Go ahead Thomas, put your finger through the nail marks.”
Many scripture commentators say Thomas wasn’t with the other Apostles that first Easter Sunday, because he took the Cross harder than all the other Apostles did; Thomas was so upset with himself after abandoning Jesus on Good Friday that he didn’t want to face the other apostles.
But while a part of him doubted, another part of him believed enough not to despair like Judas did, and believed enough to come back to the Christian community of believers.
And so, because the Cross weighed heaviest on Thomas, in the end, Thomas’ faith in Christ was the strongest among all the other Apostles, as he is the first to say My Lord and My God, the first person to so explicitly affirm Jesus as not just the Son of God, but truly God Himself.
Lastly, the Fifth and Final Fruit of the Resurrection, which corresponds to the Pierced Side of Christ, is that the Resurrection Floods the World and our Hearts with the Mercy and Love shining forth from the Heart of the Risen Jesus.
Through Faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, our hands, our feet, our hearts become the hands/feet and heart of Jesus for others.
For the True believer in Christ, faith without works is a dead faith.
Some influential people in our society have been trying to narrow the definition of what a religious institution is, saying that while a house of worship such as a church or mosque or synagogue is a religious institution, a catholic hospital or jewish school or baptist soup kitchen isn’t a religious institution.
But such thinking is totally opposed to Catholic thinking. Listen to what our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says in his 2005 Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), paragraph 22.
He states (quote): “the exercise of charity,. . . love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to (the Church) as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”
Good Shepherd School, Catholic Social Services, Fatima Hospital, according to the Pope, are as essential to the Church as the Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, the best Sermons are; these institutions are as Catholic as this Parish is,
and God have mercy on us and on our country if we start thinking they aren’t just as Catholic and start allowing our culture to treat them that way.
And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, may we Rejoice along with the Apostles this Easter Season, that Jesus, who was Crucified, is now Risen Gloriously from the Dead,
and that His Resurrection will enable us to Rise gloriously with him from all our trials, to an ever greater Faith, Hope, and Love in our lives.