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Mass for the Conference of the Divine Mercy

Church of Little Flower in Coral Gables

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Homily preached by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the Mass for the Conference of the Divine Mercy on May 4 at the Church of Little Flower in Coral Gables.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Have faith in God and have faith in me.”  These words of Jesus spoken to his disciples shortly before his sorrowful passion are also directed to us – and to the people of our contemporary world.

We live in a world in which the hearts of many are indeed troubled.  We are troubled about many, many things:  the threat of war and terrorism, the instability of our economy, the difficulties we experience in our marriages, the challenges of raising our children well; we are troubled by the disappointments and the tragedies we face daily in “this valley of tears.”

What troubles our hearts is basically fear. Sometimes this fear paralyzes us into indifference; other times this fear leads us to make bad choices.  Some might project this fear on to others – we blame others for our insecurities and we lash out at them in anger. Isn’t the persistent anger we feel toward the stranger, the immigrant, especially the undocumented a projection of our fears in a post 9//11 world?  Others might internalize their fears to the detriment of health or their ability to live in communion with others.  Doesn’t this internalized fear explain our futile attempts to “self medicate” by recourse to drugs, to sex, to the mindless pursuit of pleasure or power over others?

But at the root of all fear is the fear of being unloved and unlovable.  But, Jesus says:  Fear is useless what is needed in trust. “Jesus, I trust in you.”  The antidote for all fear is trust, trust in Jesus, trust in the power of his mercy.  This is the message of the Divine Mercy – the message given to Sister Faustina to hearts troubled by many fears.  .
Of course, as Pope Paul VI remarked, our age has lost its sense of sin.  Yet, even when we try to deny the reality of sin in our lives, we do not escape the consequences of our sins.  The wages of sin –even when we do not admit that we sin, even when we try to explain our sins away – is, as St. Paul reminds us, death.  Even when we do not acknowledge ourselves to be sinners, we experience the wages of sin, we experience the bitter taste of that death in our fears, our fear of not being loved, and of being unlovable.

Sister Faustina was a simple nun in Poland. During the first half of the 20th century, she had a series of mystical experiences in which she receive a number of revelations which have given rise to the ever increasing popular devotion of the Divine Mercy. In her Diary, she writes how she heard Jesus bid her to "…tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy…Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.... Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy". (Diary 699)

Sister Faustina is for our time and for our age the Apostle of Divine Mercy.  As Blessed John Paul II used to say, there are no coincidences but only God’s providence.  And so, it was no coincidence that the first Saint canonized in the new millennium was Faustina Kowalska.  .On the occasion of her canonization in the year 2000 on the Second Sunday of Easter, the Congregation for Divine Worship decreed that henceforth that this the last day of the octave of Easter would also be known as Divine Mercy Sunday so that this day would be “…a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come”.  We can face and overcome all fear – because we are lovable, for God created us for love.  From the cross, Christ opens wide his arms to embrace each one of us.  In Christ, who laid down his life for us, we are loved.

The gospel of Divine Mercy Sunday tells us of the Risen Lord’s appearance to his apostles who because of their fears had hidden behind the locked doors of that Upper Room where they had shared in his Last Supper. Jesus’ Easter gift to his frightened apostles was “peace” – and, then, he empower them to be peace makers themselves by giving them the authority to forgive all repented sin.

“Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them”.   Jesus showed  his power over sin and death not only when on Easter Sunday he rose from the tomb, he also shows his power by raising us up from the death of sin through the Sacrament of Penance, the tribunal of his Divine Mercy.

The feast of Divine Mercy -and the popular devotion of the chaplet associated with it – helps us to delve more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord’s Death and Resurrection and highlights the primacy of grace in the history of our salvation.  Salvation is not something we “earn”, it is entirely a gift, a gift given because of God’s unfathomable love.  As Pope Benedict has said, no one is an accident.  Each of us is the result of a thought of God – and because of this each of us is loved, because in God’s eyes each of us is loveable.

As the image of the Divine Mercy painted according to St. Faustina’s instructions reminds us, God’s mercy is more than an abstract idea. God’s mercy has a name; God’s mercy has a face:  the name and face is that of Jesus Christ who loved us “to the end”.  Even in its resurrected state, the Son of God’s human body still bears the scars of his passion and death as a witness to the breadth and depth of his love for us.

No sin, no offense, no act of depravity is beyond the power of his love, his mercy.  Jezu, ufam tobie, Jesus, I trust in you, Jesus, confio en ti..  With that trust, we seek that mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, Jesus’ Easter gift to his Church.  His mercy restores us to life freeing us from the tomb of our self pity and self hatred, our resentments and our grudges.  Jesus is the way that leads us out of the prison of our fears and our anxieties. Jesus tells us:  “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

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