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Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, Year B

On 30th April 2000, Pope John Paul II canonised a nun who had lived in

Poland. She is now referred to as Saint Faustina, and during the 1930s she

received visions of Our Lord, asking her to spread devotion to His Divine

Mercy. In one of the messages, He said to her, “I do not want to punish aching

mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart”. It's an

appropriate message for today's world, which has wandered so far away from

God. Perhaps some people might think that God is like an angry father; they

dare not approach Him, fearing what He might do to them. But that is not the

case, and God desires that the abundance of His Mercy be far more widely

known. Just like the Prodigal Son was welcomed back by his father, so God

the Father desires to welcome the return of all His children.


Sometimes people think, “What I've done is too bad. I can't be forgiven the

things I have done. Maybe other people can, but not me.” But that's not what

Jesus said to Saint Faustina. Instead, this is what He said: “Even if a soul were

like a decaying corpse, so that from a human understanding, there was no hope

of restoration and everything was already lost ... the miracle of Divine Mercy

can restore that soul in full”.


So what does this Divine Mercy involve? We've just heard in the Gospel that

Jesus appeared to the disciples after His Resurrection. He gave them the gift of

the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins, in other words, the sacrament of

reconciliation, or confession. They were given that divine authority, so that

what they say, happens. If they say someone's sins are forgiven, then they are.

If they choose not to forgive them, they are not forgiven. So if someone with

an honest and humble heart makes a good confession, all is forgiven by God

through the priest. At the end of confession, when he says the prayer of

absolution, the priest extends his hand, calling down the Holy Spirit; then he

makes the sign of the cross, through which our sins are forgiven.


For some people, though, it's not so easy actually getting to confession. I'm not

talking about the housebound; rather I mean those who struggle to reflect on

their lives and then admit their faults to a priest. So Jesus has provided us with

what could be called a spiritual “stepping-stone”, called the Chaplet of Divine

Mercy. It's a series of prayers to be said on ordinary Rosary beads, which takes

about five to ten minutes. Jesus explained to Saint Faustina, “Anyone who says

it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to

sinners as the last hope. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this

Chaplet even once, will receive grace from my infinite Mercy.” If you struggle

to go to confession, try praying the Chaplet in order to help you. There should

still be some leaflets on the table at the back of the church telling you how to

pray it; if not, I can find some more for you. The Chaplet isn't just about

praying for ourselves if we struggle to go to confession though – an important

part of it is about praying for mercy upon the whole world.


Today's first reading began by describing the unity of the early Church.

Through prayer and spreading the message of Divine Mercy, we can all play

our part in reconciling people to God and His Church. In this way the Church

can be healed and united in our land through the sacrament of reconciliation,

and flourish once again as God intends.

 

Curious about exploring things further?  If you would like to ask further questions about the topics raised in these homilies (or maybe think it wasn’t explained too well!), please feel free to e-mail Fr Michael at stjoseph.thame@rcaob.org.uk

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