The Mercy of Christ

Sunday after Easter
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today has been designated by the Church: Divine Mercy Sunday, a special day of grace in which Mother Church grants a Plenary Indulgence. It is appropriate then, on this Sunday after Easter, that we are directed to the Lord’s Mercy – his patience with us, his love and readiness to help us begin again.

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This past Lent we have heard literally thousands of confessions here at St. John’s. People are making their ‘Easter Duty’ – their annual Confession and receiving Holy Communion; and I’m sure many more will during the long Easter season.
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Since I was young, I have always loved Confession – not because it’s easy to go, it isn’t, but because of experiencing the Lord’s mercy, of being forgiven, of beginning again.
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Some people say they have no sins, they don’t need Confession; well – then they don’t need Jesus; but he did not come for them, ‘I have not come for the righteous, but for sinners,’ says the Lord.
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When Christ appeared to St. Faustina, he said: ‘When you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My heart flows down upon your soul. Know that I Myself am waiting there for you. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.’
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The origin of the sacrament of Confession is seen in the Scriptures that we read today. After the Lord’s resurrection, he appeared to the apostles, his first priests. They will now be sent out to do what he did: to teach the gospel, to heal the broken-hearted, and especially to forgiven sins. ‘And he breathed on them and said, received the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you hold bound, they are held bound.’
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The mercy of Christ is really unfathomable. ‘You sinners, says St. Leo, ‘you have no grounds for being sad any more.'[i] If you are unable to make up for your sins, look on Jesus who does penance for you. From his birth to his death, he offered himself for us.
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After all the Lord had done for his apostles, and taught them, they still did not comprehend his resurrection. ‘Oh ye of little faith.’ St. Thomas was missing that day, when the Risen Lord actually visited and spoke to the apostles: ‘I won’t believe he is risen unless I see it for myself!!’ So, Jesus visits Thomas. Does he scold him or reject him because of his weak faith? no. ‘Thomas, touch me and see. Be not unbelieving, but believe.’
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The Lord is so patient with us, it is hard to imagine because we don’t know anyone who is that patient. King David had committed some very serious sins; but he found God’s mercy, and he never stopped singing of it. In the psalms, he never tired of singing of God’s mercy: ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.[ii] Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say, “His mercy endures forever.”
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When Thais of Alexandria was asked why she brings so many young men to sin, and she herself walks the path to hell, she fell on her knees saying: ‘Father, is it still possible to repent?’ ‘yes’
St. Alphonsus says that Christ gives the same answer in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He teaches that whenever a prodigal son has left him but returns seeking mercy, he does not push him away, but embraces and kisses him, and nearly faints from joy over his return. ‘And that Father, running to him, fell upon his neck and kissed him.’
This causes Jesus to say, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; that is, that although driven away by sin, he does not abandon his child, but stands outside the door of the heart and knocks for re-admittance.
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But if we are fearful of the justice of God, Jesus has given us another advocate, Mary. St Bernard says: ‘whoever you may be, caught up in crime or grown old in your sins: thank God, who has given you his Son to save you, and his Mother Mary to encourage you, that by her prayers she will obtain whatever she wills and you will be saved.[iii]

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. [Entrusted to the prayers of St. Camillus] .

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[i] The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ, St. Alphonsus, p. 65.

[ii] Psalm 118

[iii] Glories of Mary, p. 208

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