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hubag bohol

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Divine Mercy
« on: September 01, 2015, 12:24:59 PM »
Sunday of Divine Mercy
Fr. Joe's Blog
Apr 13, 2015

http://www.straphaelsduluth.org/
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041215.cfm

 
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and so it seems most appropriate that we take some time to talk about what mercy means.  I was recently talking to a doctor-friend of mine and we were talking a little bit about Pope Francis’ recent announcement that the year 2016 will be declared the Year of Mercy.  In other words, our Holy Father wants us to use that year to reflect on things like what mercy is and what God’s mercy has done for us and to practice showing mercy to others.  My friend and I were talking about how this was such a wonderful thing, that we would have this Year of Mercy coming up.  In our conversation, she told me that her son had asked her a question: “What is the difference between mercy and forgiveness?”  It’s a very good question isn’t it?  We often use the words “mercy” and “forgiveness” as synonyms.  I know I interchange the two words quite a bit in my homilies.  Despite their similarity, there is a distinction that can be made between the two.

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hubag bohol

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Re: Divine Mercy
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 12:25:36 PM »
My friend offered one such explanation that I thought was very good. She said she remembered a story about Napoleon Bonaparte.  The story goes that after one of his many successful battles, he had a young soldier in his army arrested for a crime and was going to put him to death for that crime.  The soldier’s mother came to the emperor and pleaded with him to spare her son’s life.  He replied that the young man had committed the crime twice and justice demanded that he be put to death.  The mother said, “But I’m not asking for justice.  I’m pleading for mercy.”  “He doesn’t deserve mercy” was Napoleon’s reply.  “Sir”, the mother cried, “it wouldn’t be mercy if he did deserve it.  Mercy is all I ask”.  With that, he agreed to spare the life of the son.  My friend explained that it’s called mercy when we don’t deserve it.  We show mercy to others even when whatever they did to us does not deserve mercy or forgiveness.

I’ve reflected on this quite a bit since then.  It is so easy to hold back our forgiveness to others when we are still in pain from whatever happened, or when they never offer an apology for what they did.  We can come up with all sorts of excuses for why the person who has sinned against us doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.  I think many of us were trained from a young age to expect an apology from the others before we forgive them.  Not only that, but we expect them to “mean it” when they say “I’m sorry”.  When I was growing up I remember it wasn’t always enough to say “I’m sorry”.  If there was any indication of insincerity from the penitent, there usually came the reply of “Yeah, but you don’t mean it!”  Now, I’m not saying that this is the way forgiveness is supposed to be. We shouldn’t be so stingy with our forgiveness, but we do tend to expect something from the other before we are willing to forgive them. We look at whether the person deserves our forgiveness.

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Re: Divine Mercy
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2015, 12:26:17 PM »
Mercy is different.  We give mercy whether the person deserves it or not; whether the person has made amends in some way or not.  That is especially true when we look at Divine Mercy.  When God gives us mercy, I dare say we definitely do not deserve it.  Yet Jesus Christ, the Son of God, continues to offer it to us.

In the 1930's, a Polish nun named Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska began having visions of Our Lord.  He told her about Divine Mercy and asked her to be the apostle and secretary who would tell the world about this wonderful message of Divine Mercy.  Jesus asked her to have a painting done of how He was appearing before her.  That image is now known as the Divine Mercy image.  This famous image shows Jesus dressed in a white rob with his right hand raised in a blessing. From His heart are two rays of light; one red and the other pale.

At the bottom are inscribed the words, “Jesus I trust in you”.  The colors of the rays symbolize the blood and water that flowed from Christ's side at the Crucifixion.  It is at the Crucifixion that we see the greatest example of Divine Mercy.  Mercy flows from Christ's Sacred Heart, as it does in the image.  Our Lord also asked St. Faustina to spread the devotion of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and to work towards having the Second Sunday of Easter be named Divine Mercy Sunday.  She wasn't the first to talk about Divine Mercy; Catholics have been honoring the mercy that God has shown us for centuries before St. Faustina was even born.  The message that she spread, however, has helped Catholics around the world to be able to reflect better on what mercy really means.

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Re: Divine Mercy
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2015, 12:26:46 PM »
Our Gospel for today is really a continuation of the same Easter story we heard last Sunday.  It also teaches us something about Divine Mercy. Jesus appears before His disciples in the evening of that first Easter Sunday.  Jesus breaths on them, giving them the Holy Spirit and then commissions them to forgive sins.  The Church looks at this passage as being the point when Jesus established the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This Sacrament is really a major part of understanding Divine Mercy.  It's really only through God's mercy that we are able to receive forgiveness through this Sacrament.  As I said before, we don't deserve forgiveness.  Even when we confess our sins, we are not always sorry for the right reasons.  For instance, we're sorry because we know what we did was wrong, but we are not necessarily sorry because we have hurt our relationship with God. And even if we are truly sorry for what we did, how can we possibly make up for what we did against God and what Jesus did for us by dying on the Cross?  Yet, Christ forgives us every time we come to the Sacrament.

The Gospel also tells us about St. Thomas.  He wasn't there on the first Sunday and he refuses to believe the others.  A week later he is there and Jesus comes again.  Now he is able to see and touch Jesus for himself.  Now he believes.  It is easy for any of us to fall into doubt like St. Thomas.  We question whether God can still love us after what we did.  We question whether He can forgive us for what we did.  Do not give in to that doubt, but trust in His mercy.  Divine Mercy is for all of us.  Let us give thanks for it.



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