Lord, Have Mercy! Divine Mercy Sunday ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Divine Mercy Sunday

Reading 1: ACTS 2:42-47

Responsorial Psalm: PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Reading 2:1 PT 1:3-9

Gospel: JN 20:19-31

Liturgical colour: White.

Today we come together to honour and to celebrate the Divine Mercy of Our Lord.

We live in a worldly society in which mercy at times, is seen to be a detached idea. All too many sadly today, think that Mercy means that God doesn’t count our sins as being of importance. But Mercy is indeed a necessity because as humans, we are indeed all desperate sinners.

But the truth is that the fact of The Lord’s mercy means that sin does exist and is indeed important to God! Thanks be to God for the Glory, for the beauty, and for the wonderful gift of His Divine mercy for us!  Without it, we certainly don’t stand a chance. I for one, am certainly aware that I’m going to need much grace and mercy to make it to eternal life, how about you?.  It is only through this grace and mercy that can we be truly freed from our sins and healed from its effects, or ever hope to enter the presence of God’s Glory  with Him in Eternal Life.

Mercy does not mean that there will be no judgement; mercy indeed exists because there is a day of judgement. Mercy does not mean that Hell doesn’t truly exist; mercy exists because Hell exists.  Without mercy we are all  forever totally lost. With it we stand a chance, but only if we accept our need for it.

Lord, Have Mercy upon us!

Let us look at today’s Holy Gospel reading:

JN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “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.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,

was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them,

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands

and put my finger into the nailmarks

and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside

and Thomas was with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked,

and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,

and bring your hand and put it into my side,

and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples

that are not written in this book.

But these are written that you may come to believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,

and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

 

As we know from the  Gospel  today,  The room where the Apostles are gathered in fear;  has it’s doors locked. These are indeed  broken, troubled, and disturbed men. All of them but John had fled, deserting the Lord. One of them had (Peter), had even denied knowing Jesus, not once but  a total of three times. Here they are,  feeling humiliated, downcast, and without faith. Never mind that Jesus had told them on numerous occasions that He would rise on the third day. Even though several women and two disciples from Emmaus had said they had seen Him alive, on this the third day, these men persist in rejecting this news that conformed to His promise. Yes, we enter a locked room of fearful men who are downcast, disgraced, and disbelieving.

The Lord  appeared in their midst and says to them, “Peace be with you.” Now I don’t know about you, but if I had been hiding away, was denying Him, and was running from my responsibility at the critical moment, and then suddenly the Lord whom I had let down and offended appeared, I would be  more than a little nervous, wouldn’t you? But what does the Lord say to these embarrassed and dejected men?  The Lord says, “Peace be with you!”

The Lord does not merely say to them, “I will not punish you for what you have done.” He says, “Between you and my Father there is now peace, there is wholeness, there is completeness, there is present in the relationship all that should be there, there is justice.” The Lord does not merely overlook what a mess we indeed each are, He makes us whole and makes us pleasing to His Father.

All is well, all is complete, all that is necessary is supplied by my atoning death and resurrection!

Such  Divine mercy, such a grace, such a wonderful gift!!

This is no mere passing happiness. This is  total abiding astonishment at the sheer gift of God’s mercy and grace. The Apostles  do not just feel happy for that moment; they are given the gift of   a stable, peaceful, confident joy=the unfathomable gift of God’s mercy and goodness. They had sinned and yielded to fear; they had run from the Lord and ignored His teaching; but the Lord stands before them and says “Shalom, Peace be with you. May the full favour of the Lord be with you. May you experience that God is pleased that you are well and seeks to draw you more deeply into His love.”

Here is mercy; sweet, beautiful, soul-saving mercy; and astonishing and unexpected grace! There is shalom; there is peace; there is deep, abiding, and confident mercy. It is a joy and mercy that is unmerited. It is stable because it is rooted in the stable and abiding love of God.

However, one of the Apostles, Thomas, was missing. Here was the most wounded of all the Apostles, he felt so wounded that he drew back from the only place  where true mercy could be found. Thomas blocked his blessings.

Will we call on our merciful Lord and saviour? There is only one requirement for mercy, it is that we ask for it. Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). The door to our heart and to repentance must be opened from the inside. The Lord will not force His mercy. This is why there is a Hell. Without God’s mercy we are all doomed; we don’t stand a chance. His mercy is free for each of us except for this single price: we must surrender our pride, admit our need, and open the door.

Thanks be to God that St. Thomas did not persist in his impenitent stance, but instead rejoined the community where mercy and the Lord were to be found. Sure enough, where two or three were gathered the Lord appeared once again and St. Thomas found mercy. The Lord rebuked Thomas’ lack of faith but rewarded his penitence.

St. Thomas opened the door from deep inside of his heart. The Lord lovingly entered and built up his faith so that never again would Thomas think that he could find the Lord on his own terms. Rather, Thomas would seek the Lord where He could be found: in the Church, among those gathered in His name. Mercy is found where God is found. He knocks but it is we who must open the door and receive Him into our hearts on His terms not ours.

St. Thomas fell to his knees, astonished by the Lord’s mercy; such mercy, such a glorious gift. “My Lord and my God!” The Lord never stopped calling Thomas. The Lord did not give up but waited until Thomas answered the door. “Peace, Shalom, Thomas. I am glad you are here. Now never again stop believing in my mercy and love for you. Never again draw back thinking I am lost to you. I love you with an everlasting Love. I have called you and you are mine. Peace to you, and mercy, Thomas.”

Mercy! So great, so divine, so perfect. It is a mercy that does not deny the need for its own existence. When humbly received, it conveys peace through the common priesthood that Christ Himself established for each of us. It is a mercy which, as a prerequisite, respectfully knocks and waits for our “yes.” Lord, give us your perfect mercy.

Let us pray:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

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