Divine Mercy Sunday – 11th April 2021

Introduction

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Said St. John: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” And this is remarkably demonstrated in the striking picture before us this morning, accurately depicting the revelation made by Christ Jesus to Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. When a soldier pierced the side of Jesus on Calvary with a lance, we are told blood and water gushed forth. The rays of white light signify water that cleanses and refreshes and is symbolic of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The rays of red light signify blood and the priceless gift that we receive in and through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Such is the stupendous and boundless love that we both commemorate and celebrate on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

A Tribute to Prince Philip (1921 – 2021) – the Duke of Edinburgh

Today also we respectfully and prayerfully remember Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a member of the British royal family and the husband of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Providentially he passed away just two months short of his 100th Birthday, but most notably was his 73-year-long marriage to the Queen – a close, affectionate, and treasured relationship to which he was steadfast in his loyalty and commitment.

While much of his time was spent fulfilling the duties of his station, Philip engaged in a variety of philanthropic endeavors. He served as president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) from 1981 to 1996, and his International Award program allowed more than six million young adults to engage in community service, leadership development, and physical fitness activities.

He visited Australia no less than 20 times and endeared himself to the people of Australia with his beaming smile, the warmth of his personality, the charm of his presence, his quick-witted humour in spite of the occasional gaffe, and especially his keen interest in the first peoples their culture, heritage, and traditional practices.

We wish to express our solidarity with the Queen and the members of the royal family. May God sustain them in their grief and loss, and may they be reassured by their faith in the resurrection. May God grant him eternal rest!

Homily

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. The two key words are ‘Divine’ and ‘Mercy’. ‘Divine’ means it comes from God and God alone; and ‘mercy’ means that, at all times, God extends to us – all without exception – an unconquerable benevolence and an invincible good will. This is the principal reason for our Easter joy. In the words of St. Augustine: “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”

What is the special gift Easter that we receive today? It is a plenary indulgence or a total forgiveness of all our sins and the punishment that those sins incur. Stated differently and in medical terms, it is like an oncologist who says to a patient: “You are totally healed, and the cancer will never recur. May you be blessed with a new life and a new future!”

Said Jesus: “There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous souls who have no need of repentance. I have come so that you may have life and in abundance. I have come so that my own joy may be in you, and that your joy be complete.” This was his message 2000 years ago, that is the essence of the many messages he conveyed to a saintly Polish religious sister in 1937, Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who is now a canonised saint. She was singularly privileged to have had apparitions of Christ Jesus, on the occasion of which Jesus urged and encouraged her to remind people of God’s infinite love and boundless mercy and to appeal to them to return to Christ Jesus in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.

I once read a very touching and inspiring story that has made an indelible impact on me, principally because it highlights just how infinite is God’s mercy and how boundless is his fatherly love. Many years ago, somewhere in Scotland, a single parent had a daughter who was very rebellious and defiant. The mother was extremely patient, tolerant, and magnanimous. But just nothing seemed to work. Finally, in desperation, she said to her heart-broken mother: “I’m leaving. Don’t waste your time looking for me; you will never see me again.” That ultimate act of rebellion was truly like driving a dagger through the mother’s aching heart.

The young lady ventured into a very hostile world, where she was buffeted pitilessly and exploited ruthlessly. Her only option was to turn to a life of prostitution in order to make ends meet. And this went on for a few years. Said Jesus: “There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous souls who have no need of repentance. I have come so that you may have life and in abundance. I have come so that my own joy may be in you, and that your joy be complete.”

One day, in desperation as with the prodigal son, she decided to return to her home and was resigned to whatsoever her mother said or did. It was nearly midnight, and she was hesitant about knocking. But to her stunned disbelief, she found the door open. So, she pushed it and entered. Very quietly she crept into her mother’s room and found her mother awake, as though she was expecting her. “Mother,” she said, “you shouldn’t keep the door open – it is very unsafe.” Without batting an eyelid, the mother gently replied, “My girl, I have never closed that door since you left. I always lived with the hope that you would return, and you have.” (Repeat) As can be expected, there was a highly emotional reunion that night between a very loving and forgiving mother and a truly repentant and contrite daughter.

Said the Psalmist: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is God’s steadfast love towards those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.’ (Ps. 103:11 – 13) 

At all times and in all circumstances, God extends to us an unconquerable benevolence and an invincible good will. This is the all-important message on this Divine Mercy Sunday and the principal reason for our Easter joy. In the words of St. Augustine: “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”