Thursday, April 15, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

We spent 40 days in Lent, we now spend 50 days in Easter. We had 40 days to focus on our weakness and now we have 50 days to focus on His strength. What good would His death be, if He did not rise again? What good would life be, if we did not have access to His strength?

Each year that I have been a priest, toward the end of Lent, people approach me and complain about how their Lent wasn’t what it could have been. “I didn’t do enough, Father, I could have done more!” “I was hoping to make some real strides this Lent, Father, but I kept stumbling.” But isn’t that the point of Lent? Isn’t the point of Lent to realize our own failures and weaknesses so we might come to new knowledge of our need for Jesus Christ?

You might be thinking right now, “If that’s the case Father, I had a pretty good Lent!”

If that is the case, that Lent should remind us of our weakness and our need for Him, we need these 50 days of Easter- from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. If we do not observe these 50 days of Easter, then there is a serious risk for us. We risk thinking that our weakness is the end of the Christian message.

The fulfillment of the Gospel is not that you are sinner. The fulfillment of the Gospel is not that you are weak and unworthy of heaven. This is true, but it is not the final word. The fulfillment of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has power over sin and death- He is mighty to save us. God is full of mercy for all of our weakness, all of it. He bled to heal our own wounds.

This Sunday is also a feast in honor of His Divine Mercy. We understand mercy in a limited scope- myopic and short sighted. Mercy is a parole or a break in interest rates. Mercy is stopping tickling someone after 5 minutes instead of 10. Mercy is a final over 5 chapters instead of 10. This is no mercy at all compared to His Divine Mercy.

This past Thanksgiving while visiting family one cousin, who isn’t Catholic, said to me: “Father, you wouldn’t know what to do with me if I came into confession.” It about broke my heart. Clearly aware of his sins, a decent man who doesn’t go to Church, but he had no faith in the strength of God to heal and save him. If only he knew the goodness of God and who was inviting him to receive mercy as he acknowledged the truth of his weakness.

When everything is given, nothing is lacking. What did Jesus Christ hold back from us on the cross? Nothing. What was not healed when Jesus Christ rose from the dead? Nothing. We must never forget our weakness, yes. We also must never forget His strength, His strength in the Sacraments, in Scripture, in fellowship, and in prayer. We spent 40 days focusing on our weakness but we should spend every day of our life focused on His strength.

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