HOMILY FOR SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER 11th April, 2021
Fr. Gregory Aabaa, OP.
Happy Easter to you. We are still busking in the euphoria of Easter and today, the second Sunday of Easter, we are celebrating the Mercy of God. DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY. It is right that we are celebrating God’s mercy today because the Easter event is the most vivid manifestation of God’s mercy to sinners like us. Pope John Paul II refers to mercy as God’s Easter gift to us and that is why he declared the Sunday after Easter Sunday as the Divine Mercy Sunday. We know that God does not always offer us what we deserve but what we need. What we deserve is outright punishment; but he gives us what we need, Mercy.
Salvation history from the time of the Old Testament to the time of Jesus is fraught with the manifestations of God’s merciful dealings with humans.
The response to the responsorial Psalm says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is Good, for his mercy endures forever.” God’s mercy is infinite and everlasting because he is mercy itself.
In the New Testament, Jesus reveals the merciful face of God the Father to us. In fact, the whole salvific project of Jesus on earth can be summed up as a project of mercy. There are many instances in the New Testament that Jesus united himself with sinners as a merciful brother and friend.
In John 8:3-11, there is the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. After everything said and done, Jesus looks into the eyes of the woman and asks, “has anyone condemned you?” “No sir”, replied the woman. “Neither do i, go and sin no more”.
In Matthew 9:13, Jesus says “Go and learn the meaning of this, ‘what I desire is mercy not sacrifice….I came to call not the righteous but sinners.’” When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my neighbour, as many as seven times?” Jesus said “No, not seven times but as many as seventy seven times” (Matt 18:21-22).
The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 shows us how infinite God’s mercy is. The parable of the prodigal son is actually a parable of the Merciful Father. The parable is not so much about the younger son who went to squander his Father’s property in a life of debauchery, it is about the father who is willing to forgive his erring son and to receive him back.
Then, on the cross, Jesus himself taught us the greatest lesson of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Lk 23:24). Today, because of God’s mercy on us, Easter has become a reality that we are celebrating. Because of his mercy, Jesus accepted to suffer and die to save a perishing humanity. That is how deep divine mercy is.
Dear brothers and sisters, Divine Mercy is not merely God pardoning our offences. Divine Mercy is not merely God forgiving us; Divine Mercy is God embracing you in his arms even when you do not deserve to be there. That is because God does not embrace us because we are clean, rather, he embraces us to make us clean, just as Christ died for us even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Christ by his life has taught us so much about mercy and forgiveness and he wants us to be merciful and forgiving.
And so we ask ourselves very salient questions?
How can we who have received so much forgiveness from God not be merciful towards others? Do you have a place in your heart to forgive others when they offend you? Are you also humble enough to ask for forgiveness when you offend anyone? Although it can be difficult to forgive sometimes, let us ask ourselves if it makes sense to continue to live in unforgiveness.
I can understand there is so much hurt from people we love and cherish. Our communities, our societies are filled with so much violence, hatred, deceit, betrayal, pure wickedness and deliberate destruction of the other person.
What about us? We all in one way or the other have suffered some form of hurt from other people. Some of you have suffered what we call “Broken Hear” from loved ones. You may have been a victim of rape and abuse. You may have been betrayed by someone you so much trusted.
The Message of Jesus today for you is FORGIVE AND MOVE ON. The pain is still there, the hurt, the difficulty or problem caused is still there but you have to be strong and say today, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness does not change the past but it enlarges the future for you. You need a lot of inner energy to be able to look into the eyes of someone who has hurt you so much and embrace the person and say, I have forgiven you, I let go. Unforgiveness does not make you a hero, it makes you a slave, a slave of Satan because Satan uses you to increase the amount of hatred in the world.
Sometimes, you just have to forgive, not because the other person deserves forgiveness but because you deserve peace. In the Gospel reading of today, when Jesus appeared to his disciples, the first thing he said is “peace be with you”. You need that peace. Loosen your heart, let that spirit of unforgiveness out and receive the spirit of peace. Unforgiveness has no advantage; instead it hurts you, even your health. Unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and you expect the other person to die; It is not worth it. Let go and free yourself.
The shortness of life, the experiences of life and even the coronavirus pandemic should be a humbling experience for arrogant individuals. There is no better time to right relationships and to forgive and cherish the gifts of one another than this period. Our common predicament is one which impugns on us the obligation to support not suppress each other, to bless not beat, time to wipe each other’s tears not to make others cry. Violence must be replaced by peace, hatred replaced by love. We are not as strong as we think we are. We need each other. Time to be there for each other.
On this day of Divine Mercy, we pray that God will help us to bear witness to him by our lives lived in mercy and forgiveness in imitation of our saviour Jesus Christ. May the mercy and favour of God abide in your hearts and families in abundance for ever and ever, AMEN.