Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It was in the midst of two world wars that annihilated millions of people, Jesus Christ wanted his message of mercy to resound to all who needed to hear it. He did this through a humble young nun in Poland, St. Faustina Kowalska. It was in the 1930’s when Christ began to speak to her and make known his desire for all men and women to know the mercy of God and that the second Sunday after Easter would be dedicated to this mystery. Karol Woytla knew of these messages to Sister Faustina when he was a young man in Cracow.
I wonder who needed this message of mercy more: the victims of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot or the perpetrators themselves. Who does God love more is another way to ask the question? We know the answer. He loves all of us equally, but you can say that he has a predilection for the sinner, the one more in need of mercy. Christ called Sister Faustina his secretary of mercy and he showed her how much she would suffer to make this message known. She died in 1938 at the age of thirty-three and the feast of Divine Mercy became a reality in the year 2,000. It is not by accident that Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical is named Rich in Mercy.
Often Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina and said I will speak to you through the words of the priest who is preaching or hearing your confession. Suddenly, the priest would change the direction of his homily and it would address the concern that she had. This happened often.
On this solemnity of Divine Mercy the Church offers complete pardon of our sins and their punishment if we confess and receive Communion within a week, which may not be so easy these days. I am sure that God will take this into account. We can also do works of mercy in three different ways: deeds of mercy, like giving food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, calling those who are sick or homebound, forgiveness of injuries, bearing wrongs patiently. Then there are words of mercy to those who need encouragement or advice or counsel. Lastly, there is prayer for mercy for the living and the dead, for healthcare workers and those affected by this pandemic. These are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, seven of each. It is a good list to know.
The image of Divine Mercy with a ray of white which denotes water which makes us clean, especially in Baptism, and red symbolizes blood which is the life of souls. When Christ’s heart was pierced on the cross water and blood poured out which are symbols of baptism and the Eucharist. Even in our seclusion there is much we can do to foster mercy in our hearts and souls.
The readings today are also a big help. We see that for the apostles, and for us, locked doors do not give you peace, often it does the opposite. Nor will locked doors stop Christ from entering your life (John 20: 19-31). Christ comes more stongly when Christians assemble, not when we are isolated so it is important for the churches to open soon. The isolation is necessary for safety in this pandemic, but only Christ can give us peace and joy, even in the midst of this craziness.
Christ sends the apostles by breathing on them, which makes them anew. It is the same word used in the creation story: he blew into his nostrils the breath of life and Adam became a living being. Now in John’s gospel the twelve receive the Holy Spirit on this day of resurrection which totally transforms them.
There is a pattern in front of us. Jesus is sent by the Father to suffer and die in order to break this cycle of death. The apostles are being sent with the power of the Holy Spirit and they will go through hell to announce this saving mystery. So for us should we expect something different? He is sending us, as we hear in this gospel so difficulties will follow. Our faith is tested by difficulties and it grows, or it can grow, through them. A great joy will come upon us when trials of many kinds come your way; we see them already. This is so that we will be fully developed, complete, not deficient in any way, says St. James (1: 2-3). The fire of these difficulties will test the quality of each person’s work.
Jesus says to Thomas, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. Who is Jesus speaking of? He is referring to us and to all Christians. We have not seen him like St. Faustina or the apostles or many saints. But we believe, and we have seen many miracles. These gospels are written so that we continue to believe. This is the how it is phrased in the oldest manuscripts. John’s audience consists of Christians whose faith is deepened by these writings as ours is today.
So please don’t forget St. Joseph’s Parish even though we do not have Masses, we still need your generosity.
It is a huge help when you mail or drop off your envelopes at the parish office or you can give electronically with the link below. The collections have been low and we are grateful for those who give so generously in these weeks.