Divine Mercy Sunday
Greetings on Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter.
Readings: Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31
He is risen! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia!
As I prepared through the week to preach in addition to the ordinary preparation of lectio divina, I made a point of rereading parts of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustiina Kowalska.
She is the ‘secretary of the Lord’ and was the one who bore the gifts of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and many teachings on mercy and sacrificial intercessory prayer.
All was going as per normal and then I got sick.
Guys whine about sickness more than women so to clarify – a recoverable infection, simply very uncomfortable. On day three of a ten day antibiotic course.
Excused From Cleric Duties
I reported to my pastor that out of an abundance of caution I should not serve the Altar this weekend. It was agreed and so home bound for the weekend.
You can’t serve the Altar when you sound sick, or look sick, or have lost your balance and your hearing in one ear completely. Communicable illness? No. But it looks and sounds that way anyway.
While I reasonably know I am not contagious, symptomatology would bring us to an apparent yet incorrect conclusion that I am.
It is a joy in any event to prepare a homily. Sacred Scripture moves me, prayer opens me, and keeping to my ordination expectations I continue on. It is a joy to talk about my friend, Jesus, his resurrection and his life. Jesus is my friend. I desire to be like him that is to say act as he did. I am only reminded he is Lord and Savior when I have missed the mark.
In a very weak imitation of Saint Faustina I offer up my illness to the Lord as a gift of unity with Christ for the salvation of souls and the relief of their agonies. Of course I don’t have a hidden long undiagnosed case of tuberculosis as she did whereas her suffering was extreme at times. Nor do I have her depth of spirit that shares so tenderly the struggles of the soul journey of so many around her. Besides I am a guy, whinier you know, as stated previously.
And yet I mean it, yes? And God will have to perfect it, yes, too.
At benediction on Wednesday while in adoration I brought forward every student of a particular class. Each before Jesus and asking for instructions on how to be most helpful.
By Thursday, midday, it was clear a doctor visit is necessary and I will miss school Friday. Preparations now for the substitutes. Home, bed, prayers for souls. Saint Faustina gets a whispered thank you for her forging a new pathway of prayer and deeper meanings of mercy. She is such a gentle soul.
Continue the homily preparation.
First reading – the life in the Christian community (Acts 4:32-34). It is clear from the reading that the normative organization of Christian society is communal. Through the ages the Church has had to defend this position and also the concepts of private property (primeval, pre-Christian, Apostolic, and through to the industrial age). Lots of material here. For our current time and place we are totally sold into a Capitalistic –v- Socialistic dialectic presupposition that it requires much too much work. But I give it a go for a while. A natural starting point is Rerum Novarum (4, 8, 15, 22).
I could have escaped the need to speak but my eyes venture to Acts 5:1-11. It would seem that Ananias and Sapphira learned the penalty for pretending to be in full Christian community.
Thank God for almsgiving! Quoting Pope Benedict XVI (2018, 4) What is more: Saint Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins: “Charity,” he writes, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8). It would seem to me almsgiving is the pathway for us who don’t trust the Lord enough to live out Acts 4:32-34. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!
Since this is not a strong correlation to divine mercy except to learn to say most sincerely, Jesus, I trust in You, as such, I leave this topic for another day.
Second Reading – 1 John 5:1-6.
Victory over the world is in our faith. We die anyway. Here the life of Jesus is attested to by Spirit, water and blood. What are they attesting to in his resurrection? John 13:15, 34 – I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do (service) … and … I give you a new commandment; love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
Eventually Faustina and her doctors knew the path of her final end in the flesh. How gentle she was with the souls who taunted her and abased her repeated sicknesses and lethargy over the years. Diary entry 1488 has this statement from Jesus – Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love… strive to make My love reign in place of self-love. I think she did. She certainly worked at it (374).
Divine Mercy then is something we must claim. Imagine rain and no way to collect the drops and to watch helplessly the rain water flow to the salty oceans. We must form our hands to collect, open our mouths to accept and our stewardship to share this divine mercy. I could use this. I’ll hold onto this thread.
Gospel reading – this richest of texts John 20:19-31 is so full of divine mercy! What can I count? Twice blessed with Peace, gifted the breath of the Holy Spirit (the ultimate peace), and gifted the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Council Trent). How is that for a start? Yes, poor Thomas, we can’t forget his declarations (My Lord and My God) together with Nathanael’s (You are the Son of God, the King of Israel). How very much we need to be touched and to touch and to see. I don’t think Jesus is scolding Thomas and Nathanael. He is just laying out the need, the response and the hidden need to grow beyond the visual and sensate. Relax, few do actually.
The divine mercy image you see at Mass today is a gift to the Thomas and Nathanael in all of us. The blood and water from the very depths of My tender mercy when my agonizing Heart was opened by the lance on the Cross (Diary, 299). Invocative and powerful image, so approachable a mercy, so sweet a love. Thank you Lord for such an image of your mercy. Thank you for Faustina who was the standard bearer while many assailed her as insane.
She didn’t promote the agenda in some defiant way. Actually, believing she was spiritually instructed to burn a section of her diary, she did so. Later, Rev. M. Sopocko, corrected her mistake and instructed her to reconstruct the missing text.
The Church will always struggle with the margins. The margins of theology and liturgy, too. The margins of mercy, its boundaries, and dare I say its limits? Yet the only real limit is free will. This is what we believe, yet not all.
Perhaps there is a degree of unbelief that goes beyond the guileless Nathanael and the doubting Thomas? Perhaps there is an infection in the Church.
Sister Faustina Perseveres
Sometimes I use Bing and Google. As I tell my students these search tools are excellent to help in making a dynamic concordance. Great care must be used in plucking the text you find. I did some research after contemplating diary number 823.
I was reading diary entry 823 which is dated December 17th, 1936. I have offered this day for priests. I have suffered more today than ever before, both interiorly and exteriorly… my spirit had a taste of the bitterness of the Garden of Gethsemane. I am fighting alone, supported by His arm against all the difficulties that face me like unassailable walls. But I trust in the power of his name.
Given her spiritual gifts it is profitable to imagine she on-boarded the burdens of the priesthood. She offered and she willingly shared the deepest parameters of the suffering of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. A holy priest suffers interiorly and exteriorly. A holy priest has taken the taste of the cup from within the bitterness of the garden. She feels their isolation. She feels their sense of abandonment and the enormity of sin. She names the resistance she faces regards Divine Mercy (image, prayers, devotion, her very life) as the unassailable walls of moral and social sin.
She is one with the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ for a day. All priests. All successors to Peter. This particular day. On this particular day, in Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born: December 17th, 1936.
We know her immediate context as stated. Certainly she faced major resistance to the message of divine mercy.
She also lived it most difficult times. Here are a few news items to consider (Timelines of History web site):
- Jan 2 In Berlin, the Nazi officials claimed that their treatment of the Jews was not any of the League of Nation’s business.
- Jan 5 Daggha Bur, Ethiopia, was bombed by the Italians.
- Jan 15 In London, Japan quit all naval talks after being denied equality.
- Feb 4 1st radioactive substance, radium E, was produced synthetically.
- Feb 6 Adolf Hitler opened the Fourth Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- Feb 11 The Reich arrested 150 Catholic youth leaders in Berlin.
- Feb 20 Switzerland bared all Nazis from entering the country.
- Mar 7 Adolf Hitler ordered his troops to march into the demilitarized Rhineland, thereby breaking the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact.
- Mar 14 Hitler told a crowd of 300,000 that Germany’s only judge is God and itself.
- Mar 29 Nazi propaganda claimed 99% of Germans voted for Nazi candidates.
- Jul 4 The League Council voted to end economic sanctions against Italy with the collapse of Ethiopia. A failure of collective security under the League.
- Aug 1 “The Nazi Games,” opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler. Jesse Owens won four gold medals including the 100-meter dash–becoming the world’s fastest man.
- Nov 1 In a speech in Milan, Italy, Benito Mussolini described the alliance between his country and Nazi Germany as an “axis” running between Rome and Berlin after Count Ciano’s visit to Germany.
- Nov 15 Nazi Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Komintern pact.
- Nov 19 German Luftwaffe bombed Madrid and continued bombing to Nov 23.
- Nov 27 Great Britain’s Anthony Eden warned Hitler that Britain would fight to protect Belgium.
Saint Faustina prayed for Poland consistently, (Diary, 1732), As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.
The winds of war were blowing strongly. Faustinia worried for her beloved Poland. She warned them of sins and lack of gratitude. It would be fruitful to research this diary entry for purposes of contrast to virtues and the sins undefined (Diary, 689) On one occasion, I saw the throne of the Lamb of God and before the throne three Saints: Stanislaus Kostka, Andrew Bobola and Prince Casimir, who were interceding for Poland. Hmmm… two Jesuit priests… Kostka feast day is my birthday (a plus but unrelated to the research)… What is the inflection point?
Worthy contemplation as regards divine mercy. But not all.
Fake News Strikes the Church
Much to my misfortune I came across this site. I offer this link not as endorsement, God forbid, but as a warning of the dark clouds of unbelief gather over the land: (https://canadafreepress.com/article/was-jorge-bergoglio-the-cause-of-st.-faustinas-greatest-suffering). Here you can test drive all sorts of fake news.
Interesting too that Russian dating is one of the ads in their scroll box. Just an interesting and humorous side note.
If you compare the life of Saint Faustina, the divine mission she was given and the darkness of the times she lived in it would be with the greatest care one would use her diary, no?
Divine Mercy Is Also Divine Warning
Divine Mercy Sunday is the invitation to the inexhaustible mercy of God through his son, Jesus Christ, of this little doubt. But not all.
As Pope Francis navigates us through this divine mercy to deeper and more profound and dare I say riskier levels, we should lift him up to Stanislaus Kostka, Andrew Bobola and Prince Casimir. Pray for the support in the particular gifts of Saint Faustina, and Saint Pope John Paul II. Let the conference of the transfiguration continue. Let us continue our exodus journey out of the Juridical Canon.
And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; And you gave your sons good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins (Wisdom 12:19).
And, be warned America, as Poland in her day, the hardheartedness of our society is the inflection point. Just ask the Jesuit Priests Kostka, Bobola, Bergoglio.
Peace be with you,
P.S. I am exhausted now. Please pray for me and the cast of Beauty and the Beast, Saint John Paul II, Friday, Saturday and Sunday next. $15 if you dare come watch Maurice fumble and bumble!