Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday MMXIII

Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday MMXIII             4/7/13

Now it’s time to play “name that musical”! Ready:

The Constables sing:
Tell his reverence your story/Let us see if he’s impressed
You were lodging there last night/You were the honest Bishop’s guest.
And then, out of Christian goodness/When he learned about your plight
You maintain he made a present of this silver–

Then the Bishop says:
That is right.   (and holding up two silver candlesticks he continues)

But my friend you left so early/Surely something slipped your mind
You forgot I gave these also/Would you leave the best behind?

So Messieurs you may release him/For this man has spoken true
I commend you for your duty/May God’s blessing go with you.

But remember this, my brother/See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver/To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs/By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness/I have bought your soul for God!

If you haven’t seen the recent movie version of Les Miserables I highly recommend you do, but 1 leave your children home as its appropriate for teens and up, and 2 bring kleenex.

Les Miserables would actually be a great movie to see today, Divine Mercy Sunday. The title could even be translated “The People in Need of Mercy”.

The Film Makers could have put at the beginning of the Movie “Based on a True Story”.  Because ultimately it is based on the scene in today’s Gospel.    The Apostles are the original Jean Valjean.  By their sinfulness and weakness, they robbed Jesus not of his silver and gold, but robbed him of his very life.    And three days after they had abandoned him and denied publically they ever knew him, causing him to be scourged and crucified and killed, the Risen Lord appears to them.

Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes.  If you or I were betrayed by our best friends, and lost all that we had because of their betrayal and abandoning us, what would you or I say to those friends of ours if we were in a closed room with them three days later?  What would they say to us?

When Jesus walked through that locked door, those Apostles must have felt like Jean Valjean standing there red handed before the Bishop.  We are gonna get it now, they must have said.  Judgment Day has arrived.

But Jesus, like the Bishop in the musical, doesn’t say “I am extremely disappointed with you guys.” He doesn’t say “How could you do this, I thought you were my friends!”   Jesus doesn’t even say “Well, I guess my Father wants me to forgive you, so I guess I will”

Instead, Jesus, Mercy Incarnate, says to them “Peace be with you”.  Not only do I forgive you for being unfaithful to me, and for denying and abandoning me, and for crucifying me, I’m giving you the Candlestick as well:  Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven!

Tonight I, who as the second reading says walk among the Seven Candlesticks, a symbol of the Seven Sacraments, give you the Bright Shiny Candlestick which is Sacrament of Confession, so that if you sin and crucify me yet again in the future, your sins can always be forgiven and your soul can be always bright with the Glory of My Resurrection.

Certainly the Apostles must have then felt like Valjean did after the Bishop forgave him.  No wonder John says “The Disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord”

Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Mercy, Confession, on Easter Sunday Night, in the same Upper Room that He gave us the Eucharist.    Every time we receive Holy Communion, we experience the same intimacy and love the Apostles experienced at the Last Supper in the Upper Room.  In the same way, every time we go to confession to a priest, we experience the same joy and peace and mercy the Apostles experienced that First Easter Sunday night in the upper room.

After Jean Valjean was treated mercifully by the Bishop, he was then able to start treating others mercifully himself.   And it is only when we start realizing how in need of mercy we are, that we will then start being truly merciful and loving towards others.

In the words of one spiritual writer: Jesus came not for the righteous but for sinners, and those who do not recognize how they belong in the category of sinners cannot connect with Jesus.

We seem to have a great example of Mercy in our New Holy Father,  Pope Francis.    Mercy is certainly going to be a major theme in his pontificate.  In one of his first homilies on the Woman Caught in Adultery, the Pope said that “God never tires of forgiving us, it is we who get tired of asking God for forgiveness.”     How true that is, how often do we rationalize away our sins in our society today, or try to get our sins accepted by society, instead of just coming to grips with the fact that “Hey, I’m a sinner just like every other human being, but praise God, because Jesus came to save sinners like me from my sins!”

Lastly, Pope Francis’ Motto on His Papal Coat of Arms is “Miserando atque Eligendo”.  It is actually quote from a Sermon on the Call of St. Matthew the Tax Collector by the 11th Century English Monk St. Bede the Venerable.    The Pope’s Motto is best translated as “Jesus looked on him with eyes of Mercy, and He chose him.”  And this is what Jesus does to all of us, He looks on us, sees that we are weak and only human, yet He has mercy on us, and chooses us to be missionaries of His Mercy in the World.

May we like Valjean, like the Apostles, rejoice that Christ is Risen, and has mercifully forgiven us.  May we receive his mercy, and then bring that mercy to others, for “to love another person is to see the face of God”

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