Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. -Jn 20:23
John Paul II declared during his homily at the Canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. (www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20000430_faustina_en.html). This year we celebrate this Feast, on May 1st, in an extraordinary way because we have First Communion being received by some of our children. In addition, John Paul II, who died on Mercy Sunday in 2005, is being beatified in Rome on the same day. What an amazing convergence of graces! How can we make sense of it? A recent rendition of Amazing Grace includes the expression ‘grace like rain’. Grace, like our northwest rain, is pouring out upon us. What are we to do? The answer is simple: receive.
John Paul was inspired by the revelations given by Christ to a Polish nun named Faustina, who said to her, “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy." (Diary, p. 132). How true that is, and how true to our Gospel, which we read this Sunday. Twice Our Lord says, “Peace be with you,” before breathing on the apostles saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Imagine that for a second. We just witnessed at the Chrism Mass the Archbishop breathing on the holy oils as part of the blessing ritual. Here Christ is not breathing on an object, but on persons. Remember God breathing life into the nostrils of man at the beginning of creation, making him ‘a living being’? Sin, however, destroys a much more vital life within the soul and mercy is the cure.
We continue this week with our novena of mercy, which Our Lord gave to St. Faustina, inviting her to offer different categories of peoples to His Infinite mercy. Jesus encouraged going to confession during this time of mercy:
When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light. ...Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart…when will it beat for me? (from the Diary entry 1602, 1725, 1728)
There is also a plenary indulgence for all who confess their sins, receive Holy Communion and pray for our Holy Father’s intentions. (See www.mercysunday.com for more information.)
Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. - Jn 6:56
Congratulations to our students who are receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. This is the ‘new and everlasting covenant’ between God and all humanity. No more lambs, nor more messengers; God Himself has come to save us as He plants His law more deeply into our hearts through the gift of the Eucharist. Each child who receives Him becomes a tabernacle of the Most High. These children continue to be dependent on good parenting, which includes perhaps a more important communion, their second one. When will it be?
All of us should consider why the Church insists on Sunday worship in relation to the Eucharist. If this is the Bread of Life, is there a week of your life when you don’t want to have eternal life within you? The week is described in Genesis as a model for human life when God rests on the seventh day. We ought to dedicate one day a week to pure rest in this awesome God from which flows all the goodness we can ever experience in life. Parents of First Communicants, please come back next week for the sake of your child and for your own sake. Your life eternal depends on it. While His mercy is infinite, as this Sunday suggests, we need to cooperate with the graces He gives us.
Blessed John Paul II
Our recent pope is on the fast track to sainthood. You can see the beatification at www.ewtn.com beginning at 11:30pm Saturday, April 30th. John Paul wrote a few words on his death bed to be read on Mercy Sunday, the day he entered heaven:
As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy! Lord, who reveal the Father’s love by Your Death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You… Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world. Amen.
- ▼ April (4)