Posts Tagged ‘Divine Mercy’

Holding on to Easter Joy

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

2nd Sunday of Easter

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 4: 32-35; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31

Deacon Larry Brockman

Can you still feel the Joy of Easter, or has last Sunday’s joy passed you by?

 Possibly the parking lot after Mass last week wiped out your joy; or returning to work, or school, or your chores sobered you up, because as soon as you stepped out of this Church with all the fantastic joyous music and the bold and glorious proclamations of the Resurrection accounts, promising life everlasting for those who believe and follow the Gospel, the real world was waiting out there for you, wasn’t it?  And that world is full of non-believers, cynics, and people who are dedicated to just one thing in life- number 1, themselves, and self-gratification. They make a very powerful case for how foolish it is to believe in anything else, not to mention all the details that life here throws at us.

 And so now, just a week later, the promise of life everlasting last week seems so remote and vague in the face of the end of semester test; the PTA conference with little Johnny’s teacher;and the progress report on your work project that was due Friday  that you didn’t get to. What sounds really good is a good stiff drink; a great steak with all the accompaniments; and in fact, anything that is real and tangible- something that the world has to offer, just like all the folks of the world told you.   

 In fact, it may have taken all you could muster to come here again this week. Because time, time is of the essence.  After all, we have only one life to live, right?   

 Well, let me offer another perspective.  As some of you know, I visit a local hospital twice a week to help the Chaplain.  I see so many people there who are experiencing a giant wake up call.  They were in the fast lane of life, and then wham, all of a sudden they find out they have cancer; or old age has caught up with them and they can no longer be independent; or they have had a heart attack or stroke that has left them alarmingly weak; or because of diseases like diabetes, they are going to lose a leg or limb.  All of a sudden life becomes tremendously precious to them.  All of a sudden, they wonder if there is something more than life as we know it, because all of a sudden they realize that their quality of life here is greatly diminished, and in fact, they are going to die, some of them soon.   

 Why did all of you come here last week?  Because you knew that Easter was that one great time of the year in the Church calendar when you would hear about the ultimate promise that we all long for- life everlasting in happiness and joy, especially after we die; and all of us are going to die for sure.   

 Even though the world may have choked out that feeling of joy quickly for all of the reasons I mentioned and more, many of us are back this week, hoping the joy returns.  Well, we do have the same message for you- rejoice because Jesus Resurrection of the body from the dead and his promise that we will all experience a similar Resurrection from the dead,,is real; very real; and following Jesus guarantees us life everlasting.     

 Realistically, that promise is shrouded in the same doubt that Thomas experienced, isn’t it?  We find it hard to believe in the face of the real world we all experienced in this last week since Easter.  But in his genius, Jesus anticipated that doubt, and so, we have today’s Gospel story about Thomas.  So truly, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” because the rest of us have nagging doubts.   

 We just spent the 40 days of Lent getting ready for the promise of the Resurrection.  That preparation was supposed to involve a self-examination of our lives, an examination that would reveal where we need to change, that is repent.   

 John says in our second reading, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God”.  So first, we have to believe; believe that Jesus is the Christ, our savior, and that the Resurrection is real.  We have to believe it in order to believe that our everlasting life, which follows that of Jesus, is real.  We have to believe it despite all of our trials and tribulations in this world, despite all of that the cynics and non-believers say and do, and despite the more attractive things of this world that give immediate, although temporary gratification.     

 Then John goes on to say that we need to love God:  And what does that mean?  Well, John says it this way:  “The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments”.  Obedience,  that is what God is big on.  And so we are called today to the same conversion process, believing and repenting, that was the hallmark of Lent.  When we really believe and do God’s will we will experience an underlying joy and peace of mind because God comforts those who are on the right track.   

 But there is something really special about today because today, the Sunday after Easter, has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.  You see, Our Lord recognized that many of us would still have our doubts; would still be influenced by the world and it’s cynics and pundits, and would need more than the promise on Easter.  Today, we are blessed with something more, and something really special.  Because no matter how far we have strayed; no matter what we have done in the past, Jesus is telling us that mercy triumphs over judgment.  Jesus is promising us the gift of everlasting life and happiness for all who believe, as long as we promise to seek his forgiveness and repent- that is change our lives- from this moment forward.  Jesus is promising all of us mercy no matter what we have done.   

So, Brothers and Sisters, now is the time.  Accept the Divine Mercy offered by Jesus.  Believe in your hearts in the Resurrection.  Seek forgiveness for sins of the past.  Promise to bring your life into accord with God’s commandments from this moment on.  And then experience the underlying joy that comes with knowing that you are forgiven everything, and will live forever in the kingdom of God. 

Divine Mercy- Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 5: 12-16; Rev 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20: 19-31

Dc. Larry Brockman


Lord Have Mercy!  We say that during every Mass.  But what does it really mean to us, the Mercy of God?

During Lent, we concentrated on the need to reflect on our lives; and to recognize our sinfulness.  That was intended to lead us to the sacrament of Penance, where we confess our sins and reconcile ourselves to God so that we could celebrate Easter in the fullness of the joy that the Resurrection brought.  You see, all of us who believe and repent, and then follow after our Savior Jesus by living the pattern of life in the Gospels, are guaranteed to follow in Jesus footsteps when we die- the resurrection of our bodies in the eternal Kingdom of God.  When we went to Confession, we experienced God’s mercy- the forgiveness of all of our sins and reconciliation between God and ourselves.  That is what God’s Mercy is.  But sadly, not everyone went through that process.

And so today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.  Divine Mercy Sunday is God’s way of giving us all a second chance to reconcile ourselves with Him.

First, let me give some background about Divine Mercy Sunday.  Back in the 1930’s, a Polish lady named Helen Kowalska, who became a nun and took the name Sister Faustina, had visions of the Risen Christ.  The primary vision she had is depicted on the stained glass window in our Tabernacle area.  It shows Jesus with red and blue rays flowing from His heart.  The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for our sins as He redeemed us;   And the blue, the water that gushed when the soldier pierced his heart, symbolizes cleansing and mercy.  Jesus encouraged Sister Faustina to draw what she saw, and said that it represented His Divine Mercy.  And so this window is a permanent reminder to us of God’s Divine Mercy.

And what does Divine Mercy mean?  It means Jesus is giving us another opportunity to be cleansed by the water and blood of Christ this weekend, and so, be forgiven for all of our sins, no matter what they are.  Yes, no matter what they are.  Indeed, Jesus spoke of his infinite mercy to Sister Faustina multiple times.  He is quoted as having said in one vision:  “I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of my Mercy”!  And also in another vision: “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will receive complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.”  In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina,aAnd designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday- the Feast of His Mercy.  The Pope recognized that Jesus wanted the Feast of Divine Mercy celebrated annually, that was Jesus’ desire.

So, why did Jesus want the Feast of Divine Mercy?  Well, Jesus told St. Faustina that it pained Him that so many souls had not listened to Him.  They had not sought forgiveness for their sins, even with 6 weeks of reflection and purification available during Lent.  Jesus was pained because these souls were in danger of being lost.  The time for obtaining mercy is limited.  Indeed, time is limited for all of us- we could die at any time.  But during our lifetime, we must take that critical step, and seek forgiveness of our sins- after death it is too late.  Jesus is offering infinite mercy right now for whatever we have done- that’s the point.  But, we have to respond to him.  And the summary of Jesus message through St. Faustina, now sanctioned by the Church, is that we must do three essential things to receive His Divine Mercy and all the benefits of it:  Go to Confession; Receive Communion; and show mercy to others.  I will touch on all three of these briefly.

First, the Confession part.  You must go to a priest to go to Confession.  Asking God for forgiveness privately doesn’t fulfill the need to Confess.  In today’s Gospel, you heard Jesus commission His Apostles with these words:  ““Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained””.  Jesus said this to His Apostles for a reason.  This is how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Penance.  And so, Confession is the specific way, the guaranteed way, to assure that your sins are forgiven.  Besides, in the visions to St. Faustina, Jesus made it clear that He wanted us to go to Confession, as the two quotes show.

So if you are holding back for any reason, Confession is the critical first step you need to take.  Whatever it is that you might have done- even violence or abuse or separation from the Church or other kinds of very serious sin, know that Jesus’ Divine Mercy appeal is especially for you.

Second, we need to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace.  And it is Confession that guarantees that we are in the state of grace because we are reconciled with God.  The Eucharist is the body, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.  When Jesus comes into our very being, we experience a closeness, an intimacy, with God.  We are in Communion with Him and with the rest of the assembly.  Through that intimacy, we are given graces to sustain our relationship with God.  And we need those graces to stay the course.

Lastly, we need to show mercy.  In Math 5:7, Jesus says: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy”; and in James 12:13, we hear that “Judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment”.  It’s really very simple.  How can we expect God’s infinite mercy if we continue to withhold mercy ourselves?  It is a humble and contrite heart that we need- and mercy to others shows that we have a humble and contrite heart.  So, if you have an estranged family relationship; if you have a feud with your neighbor; or if you feel that someone has done you tremendous harm, now is the time for you to show mercy yourself.

Now Jesus has given us several special gifts through St. Faustina, to help us on our way.  First, prayer- we are to pray for ourselves and for others.  And He has even suggested some prayers and devotions- The Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Novena prayers specifically.  We are giving away Chaplet and Novena pamphlets in Rosary packets this weekend at all the Masses.  Second, saying these prayers, and complying with the three conditions I mentioned earlier brings us plenary indulgences.  That means that not only are our sins forgiven, but God will absolve us of the temporal punishment for our sins.

And there is something else, too.  We all have a special opportunity to show mercy this year.  In this year of Evangelization, you can be a catalyst, an instrument, a special motivator for one or more of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Tell them about Divine Mercy.  Give them a Divine Mercy Packet.  Start them on their way by saying the chaplet with them.  Remember, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy”.  What can be more merciful than bringing a lost brother or sister to Christ?

Showing Mercy

Sunday, May 1st, 2011


Second Sunday of Easter

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31

Dc. Larry Brockman


Mercy.  Mercy can be difficult for us.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own suffering that the last thing on our minds is being merciful to others.  I have had some considerable discomfort over the last month  as I have undergone treatment for kidney stones.  I found myself focused on that suffering, and less concerned about others.  But, as I pondered on it during Holy Week, I realized that when that happened, when I became preoccupied with my own pains, then that is the best time for me to think about God’s goodness to me. 

First, Jesus clearly suffered and died a horrible death through no fault of his own.  And, any suffering I experience pales by comparison to what Jesus endured for me.  Second, while I may be suffering at some point in time, God has given me many gifts as well- Family, friends, a good home, and many, many other blessings, not the least of which is my Faith in Jesus and the promise of eternal life that comes from the Resurrection.  Indeed, when you keep in mind God’s immense gifts to us, then we are able to bear with the hardships of life – because we have the right perspective. 

This is what St Peter means when he says that we rejoice in God’s mercy   “Although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials.”   Those trials are not outside the scope of God’s wisdom – he allows them for a reason. This is true even of seemingly petty, everyday trials. Such things, in fact, have made sinners into saints.

Consider, for example, a monk, named Dositheus. He was a sixth century monk whose job in the monastery was to care for the sick members of the community.  The sick monks were just as ornery in their sufferings as normal people, preoccupied with their suffering.  Probably just as ornery as I was the last couple of weeks!  This orneriness grated on Dositheus.  When this happened, Dositheus would lose his patience and speak harshly to his brother monks.   Then, filled with remorse, he would run to his room, throw himself on the floor, weep bitter tears, and beg for God’s mercy. His genuine contrition allowed divine grace to work within him.  And so, over time, and with God’s help, Dositheus eventually overcame his ill-temper   and became so kind, patient, and cheerful that he filled even the sick and suffering monks with his contagious joy.  Dositheus learned to be truly merciful, and was canonized a saint for it[1].  

If we think often about God’s immense goodness and mercy to us, we, too, will be able to rejoice even amidst our trials, because we will know that they are, somehow, part of his plan for our lives.   They are part of the goodness God gives to us- they are part of God’s mercy.  They are a teaching kind of mercy.  You know, this kind of mercy is revealed in today’s Readings.  First of all, consider the Gospel reading.  The Apostles had been especially selected by Jesus.  Yet they abandoned Jesus after the Last Supper.  They fell asleep while He prayed at Gethsemane; they scattered when He was arrested, leaving Him behind; and at the beginning of today’s Gospel, they had gathered in a locked room- confused, afraid of the authorities, conflicted by what some of them had heard about- the Resurrection.  Indeed, in every sense of the word they were depressed and out of sorts and focused on their own pain.  And yet, what did Jesus do when He appeared to the Apostles?   Although they had abandoned Jesus in his most difficult hour, Jesus wasn’t going to abandon them.   Instead, he passes through the locked doors, passes through their fears, regret, and guilt, and appears to them.  Jesus sought them out and brings them his peace.   And he reaffirms his confidence in them by reaffirming their mission:   As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  We also see God’s mercy in Christ’s reaction to the men who had crucified him.    Did he come back and crush them in revenge?  No.  Instead, he sends out his Apostles to tell them – and to tell the whole sinful world,  the world that had crucified its God –  that they can be redeemed, that God has not condemned them:   And then, just to make sure that the Church is fully armed to communicate this message, Jesus gives the ultimate revelation of God’s mercy –  He delegates to his Apostles his divine power to forgive sins:   “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”    Through the institution of the sacrament of Confession, we all receive the limitless mercy of God,  A gift which overwhelms any misery we may experience in our lives  Because we merit everlasting life and joy by our reconciliation with God.   It was the ultimate revelation of Divine Mercy. This is how God has treated us.  Not because we deserved it, but because his goodness is so great and so overflowing that he wanted to give us the greatest gift he could think of: a share in his own divine life,  a real membership in the heavenly kingdom, forever.

Today, as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, our hearts should be full of simple, childlike gratitude.  The Eucharist is Christ’s pledge to us of the glory to come.  Today, when we receive this pledge in Holy Communion,  Let’s thank God for his mercy and his generosity, from the bottom of our hearts.  But let’s not just thank him with words.  Because if our King and God has treated us with such overwhelming goodness, giving us much more than we deserve, then we should strive to do the same for those around us. 

There are three simple ways we can do this, three ways we can act on God’s grace and make ourselves bearers of God’s mercy.  First, we can forgive people who offend, insult, or harm us, even when we think they don’t deserve to be forgiven – just as Christ does every time we come to confession.  Second, we can give others a gift, an opportunity, or a kindness, even when we think they have done nothing to deserve one – just as Christ will do for us today with Holy Communion.  Third, we can patiently bear with the imperfections and irritations we see in those around us- just as Christ does with each one of us every single moment of every single day.  The more we become like Christ in his mercy, through the power of his grace, the more we will experience the “indescribable and glorious joy” that he died to win for us in his Divine Mercy.

[1] Aapted from Saintly Solutions, by Fr Joseph Esper (Sophia Institute Press, 2001.]