April 3, 2016: Divine Mercy Sunday C
Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you seen the Charlie Brown comic strip where Snoopy was writing a theology book? Snoopy’s title for his new theology book was “Has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?” Often times when religion is brought up in a conversation emotions get heated. In my atheist days during high school, I used to get very angry with my bible believing classmates when they challenged me about not believing in a personal God. A young man who was welcomed into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil said that his supervisor at work got very angry with him for wearing a small cross on his neck and for saying “God bless you,” to a sneezing customer. He was informed by his boss that he would have to consent in writing that he would not wear the cross or discuss religion. The young man refused to sign the letter and instead chose to resign. As he was leaving the workplace, his manager said, “You know, you shouldn’t quit your job over your religion.” The young man replied, “You don’t understand. My faith means everything to me.”
Distrust of God is something that we commonly encounter all around us--in our workplace, in our marriage, and in our family. In fact, it is the original sin of Adam and Eve that we all inherited--distrust of the goodness of Heavenly Father. Because of our distorted image of God, we do not recognize Him as good, merciful, and trustworthy. When the core of our being lacks the trust in Heavenly Father, all other relationships are poisoned by this distrust. What restores our distrust in God is experiencing his mercy in the Risen Lord.
In today's Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences the mercy of God. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: "We have seen the Lord." Thomas stands for all of us who struggle with faith— who make progress slowly, and sometimes from crisis to crisis, growing from partial belief to the fullness of Easter faith. How does Jesus react to this distrust? With patience. Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief. Thomas acknowledges his little faith when Jesus appears personally to him, and he responds to Jesus’ patience by saying, “My Lord and my God!” In doing so, Thomas is enveloped by Divine Mercy. He sees God’s mercy before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in His open side. In those wounds, Thomas discovers trust. To meet Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is an experience that changes our understanding of God, for Christ reveals both the full truth about our humanity and the face of the merciful Father, who can and does bring life out of death. God's mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones.
The Lord desires to pour out his Merciful Love to all of us, but so many just do not want to receive it, just like the young man’s supervisor I mentioned at the beginning of the homily. Jesus told St. Faustina how souls wound his heart by ingratitude, distrust of his goodness, and despise his graces. We can console Jesus by asking to receive his mercy that other souls rejected. We do this when we pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Notice what we are asking of the Heavenly Father, “For the sake of His (Jesus’) sorrow passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” By asking to receive the rejected mercy, we are giving a second chance to those who reject God’s mercy and love. In turn, we allow our hearts to be healed of indifference toward the pain and suffering of our neighbor; in short, we allow Jesus to make our hearts more like his.
Pope Francis, encourages us, “Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”
-Fr. Paul Yi