Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Homily - "Mission of mercy"
Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.
When adversity hits or when things get tough, you find out who your true friends are. Well, things have gotten tough, and I have found out who my true friends are. So many of you GW Catholics have given me so much support, encouragement, and love. Words cannot express my gratitude. I am so thankful, and so is my family for all that you have done recently. Jesus said to the Apostles, “I have called you friends”. From the Book of Sirach, “a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter. He who finds one finds a treasure”. I have found a treasure in all of you.
There is so much to celebrate tonight! It’s the eighth day of celebrating the Resurrection. It’s Divine Mercy Sunday which the Church has celebrated on the second Sunday of Easter since 2000. And, there is so much incredible stuff in the readings. The line that struck me in my prayer last week was, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you”. Think about why the Father sent the Son into the world. He was sent to save the world! He was sent by the Father on a mission of mercy, a mission of love, a mission of peace, a mission of Truth….to heal the sick…to serve the poor…and so on. He wants us to be at peace. Three times He says in tonight’s Gospel, “peace be with you”. And, listen to how many times the word ‘peace’ is used at Mass. He wants us to be at peace.
And, then, the Son sends the Apostles on the same mission. He gives them the power to forgive sins in tonight’s Gospel; the forgiveness of sins is primary in Christ’s mission. He gives them the power to consecrate the Eucharist at the Last Supper: “do this in memory of me”. He gives them the power to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”…to anoint…to heal the sick…to drive out demons. And, we hear them doing this in the first reading (Acts of the Apostles). The Acts of the Apostles is commonly referred to as “the Gospel of the Holy Spirit”. Amazing stuff happens in this book! We hear tonight that the Apostles cured the sick…some even were cured by their shadows (3rd class relics?!).
Jesus gave them the order to continue His mission and they did. By the way, it’s not like He just left them on their own to do this. After He ascended into Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit upon them. The Spirit has been guiding the Church for 2,000 years. And, human reason tells us that Jesus didn’t intend for His mission to continue only through the first priests and their generation only; He intended it to continue until the end of time. So, the Apostles passed down their mission and power to the next generation of priests who passed it down…to now where priests like me have the mission. Jesus sent me to GW to continue His mission.
It is a mission for all of us: priests, religious brothers and sisters, married, and single persons. In the 19th century, He appeared to Sister Faustina in Poland and sent her on a mission of mercy. He appeared to her in the image you see in the Church (Divine Mercy image) and told her to bring His One of them is simply looking at the image; He gives graces to those who look at even a small card of the Divine Mercy image. The big one, though, is the grace He offers today: a plenary indulgence. Any Catholic who goes to Mass today can gain a plenary indulgence. I did a wedding this weekend and was explaining this to some young adults. I told them this is a really good deal and they were into it. It is a good deal!
A plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due to sin. Let’s say I commit the sin of gossip and confess it. I am forgiven for it, but for the sake of justice, I need to serve a punishment for it (just like in society if we commit a crime, we have to serve a punishment). Let’s say the punishment is one day in Purgatory for gossip. Then, add up all of the times I’ve gossiped in my life, and the punishment seems big. Then, bring in all the sins I’ll commit in my life, and I’m looking at a huge amount of time in Purgatory! It’s okay, though, because if I make it to Purgatory, I’m going to Heaven. But, a plenary indulgence removes all that time in Purgatory! It’s one of the amazing graces that God has given the Church. To gain the indulgence, we have to satisfy three conditions within a week before or after the act of indulgence: 1) go to Confession (where I lost the young adults), 2) receive Holy Communion, and 3) pray for the Holy Father (usually on Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be). You can apply the indulgence to yourself and the sins you’ve committed to this point or to someone who has died and is in Purgatory. The indulgence would send them to Heaven! It’s like a get-out-of-Purgatory-free card. They will be so psyched that you did this for them! I am available all week for Confession. When I was ordained, I said that I am available 24/7 for Confession. This doesn’t mean that I am looking for a call at 2 or 3 am after a bar crawl. It means that I am a minister of mercy…always offering you Christ’s mercy.
Finally, the last three lines of John’s Gospel are huge to understand why we even have the Gospels: “But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name”.