Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bishop Finn's Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn visited the parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel today in Kansas City. The parish also serves as the diocesan Shrine to the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina. Following Confession and recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Mass was celebrated. After introductory remarks to the parish community, Bishop Finn's homily continued as below:

. . . I am grateful for [Msgr. Blacet's] invitation to join you for the observances of this Feast: Confessions, Holy Mass and the Praying of the Chaplet, here at the Diocesan Shrine to Divine Mercy and St. Faustina.

In the rhythm of this beautiful prayer, and in the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation, we experience the rich and unending love of God which flows out toward man and offers him forgiveness and new life beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.

In the Gospel account of the Risen Jesus which we read each Divine Mercy Sunday, we are filled – as were the apostles – with a deep sense of Easter peace. This is the message of the Lord who appears to these men on the evening of that first day of the week. Christ offers peace to the apostles - still so unsure of what has taken place; of what is happening even now. This is a most welcome gift: Peace to calm their fears; Peace to ease their guilt at having abandoned Him in His sufferings; Peace when they are still trying to comprehend these powerful and mysterious realities. Again He says to them, “Peace be with you!” This peace is perhaps the first manifestation of His mercy, and the Gospel tells us that Christ’s peace led to joy.

This year, in our observance of the Divine Mercy, I want to reflect very briefly with you on the intercessory prayers that many of us have made as a part of our novena, along with the recitation of the chaplet each day since Good Friday.

Jesus not only gave the chaplet to St. Faustina. He taught her many things about the wide embrace of his merciful love. And so each of the last nine days we have heard Our Lord’s invitation to “bring to Him” all mankind: the faithful and the unfaithful – so that He could flood them with this divine gift of undeserved love.

Today bring to Me all mankind, especially sinners. The first intercession comes on Good Friday and reveals the purpose of Christ’s supreme self sacrifice – to win and redeem all people of every age – not just the righteous, but sinners. And what will Christ do with us sinners? He wants to immerse us in the ocean of His mercy.

The second day: Today bring to Me the souls of priests and religious.
On Easter Sunday: Today bring to Me all devout and faithful souls.

The thought that comes to me as I hear these urgent pleas from Jesus Christ, is that He truly longs to embrace and flood us with His Easter life and grace. Dear friends, this is the Lord of Life, the Redeemer of the world, the eternal living God, the Incarnate Son. And He is asking you and me to carry one another to His heart – to His pierced side – so that the most faithful and the most unworthy alike can be drenched in the Blood and Water: signs of salvation - baptismal water and precious blood. In these living gifts Jesus gave us life. In them He established the Church. Through the Blood and Water He is granting us a new birth as sons and daughters of the Father.

The fourth day: Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know me.
And the next: Today bring to Me the souls of those who have separated themselves from the Church.

Here it becomes clear that Jesus wants to extend a grace of evangelization which we may now call mercy. Yes, it is a work of mercy to teach the truth in love, to bring others to Christ who do not know Him – or even to those who have abandoned Him and His Church, but need the grace and mercy of a new chance.

In these powerful words of Jesus the Divine Mercy, we are learning what the mandate of mercy in the Church will require. When we have received mercy, we must in turn become instruments and apostles of mercy. Those whom our Lord calls to Himself, we must not reject. In our prayers and by our actions we must “bring to Him” all the souls He loves.

Jesus shows then a special tenderness for the small and helpless: Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These childlike souls, He says, are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God. It must be clear to us that, in God’s eyes, children are not a burden or an inconvenience, but a sign of His own innocence and simplicity.

Next, Our Lord calls to Himself those who have been ready cooperators in His love: Today bring to Me the souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy. This prayer acknowledges that those who bring and proclaim God’s mercy have discovered the greatest attribute of the Eternal Father: fathomless mercy. According to His words to St. Faustina, Our Lord’s special resting place for these co-workers is enclosed within the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. This calling is not reserved for a limited few. It is offered to you and me, if we will come determined to do deeds of mercy and to place all our Hope and trust in Him. Jesus I trust in You. Jesus I trust in You!

In the last days of the Novena, the message of mercy is extended to the Poor Souls in Purgatory and to those who have become lukewarm. Again, Jesus tells us: Bring them to Me. Bring them to Me. These are not the demands of a vindictive judge – but the prerogative of perfect charity expressed by a victorious risen Savior, so that all mankind can be immersed in the abyss of His mercy, so that the fruits of His supreme act of redemption can be offered to the many.

This Feast of Divine Mercy is a wonderful climax to Easter week. I pray that – having responded in trust to the invitation of Christ – we may all come into a greater union with Him.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world!
Mary, Holy Queen and Mother of Mercy, pray for us!