Never accept sin by invoking mercy, Divine Mercy Sunday 8 April 2018

Friends, today more than ever, the message of mercy is needed. At a time when people treat and kill fellow human beings like animals, we cannot be tired of stressing the necessity for proclaiming mercy and living in mercy among the world's people. Therefore, it is a joy that the Church celebrates this second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Today’s liturgical texts can open a gate to our understanding of the nature of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus is the face of God's mercy. And we need to constantly reflect on God's mercy, this was the message of Pope Francis in the document "Misericordia Vultus" during the announcement of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is easy to claim to have faith and to love God while one's actions in all ways deny him. Therefore, what St John writes in his first letter is extremely important: "For this is the love of God, that we may keep his commandments."

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:32-35) tells us that none of the members of the early Christian Community was ever in want. While we may not apply this model completely to the situation today, yet the obligation to live in solidarity with the needy and for equitable distribution of earth’s resources stand for all ages. We use what we have to support ourselves, our family and people who are close to us. We must not to waste money on ourselves and on our family while others suffer and lack necessities of life. It is shameful to live in luxury while neighbours suffer from hunger. Many who live in poverty are not responsible for their situation.  There are structural barriers that keep people in poverty and hunger. While millions live in extreme poverty, one fifth lives in abundance or luxury. No matter how little we have, there is always something we can do if Christian generosity prevails in our hearts and lives. Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if everyone gets what they need, and no one lacks basic needs.  Unfortunately, incredible greed has blinded us to think only about ourselves and gather more than we need, thus depriving others of what they need.

Through sister Faustyna, a Polish nun, God has renewed and entrusted us with the message of mercy in our time. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy, is one of Jesus’ beatitudes. This is precisely what we are today reminded of in the celebration of the Sunday of Mercy.  No one receives mercy who is not merciful. If we listen to the witnesses with a vigilant heart and open ourselves, we can experience that Christ is truly resurrected. Christianity is at the same time a gift and a mission, to participate in divinity and from the witness of Jesus. What you have received without paying, give without charging. It is God's mercy that becomes clear in the mysteries, of suffering, cross and incarnation. In them, God makes his love for us concrete. We are called to a life of mercy, to receive mercy and give mercy to others. "Be merciful, as I am merciful" (Luke 5:36). None of us stands outside God's mercy no matter how much we think we have sinned. God's love and mercy are greater than our weaknesses and sins.

God thinks in His mercy on us. In the mystery of Easter, he expresses his love and mercy to the whole world. Jesus has poured out his blood to show his mercy to the sinful world. God has once again reminded us of the necessity of mercy through his revelation to sister Faustyna Kawalska in Poland on February 22, 1931. Jesus expressed his wish for a painting depicting the risen Jesus. At the bottom you should write the words: "Jesus, I trust in you". The whole Easter's events speak of the mystery of God's mercy. No one can win his own salvation without God's grace. No found mercy and made righteous before God's justice. In Jesus, the secret of mercy is revealed. The world always needs to be reminded of God's great mercy. People often find it difficult to receive and show mercy.

The Bible's stories teach us that God's mercy is endless and boundless. As soon as we show signs of repentance, he takes us back to himself, washing us clean. Pope Francis has spoken a lot about God's mercy and the importance of showing mercy to others. All of this is incredibly desirable. At the same time, we should not forget that mercy is not a cover to remain in sin. Mercy is connected to truth and justice. God does not show mercy to anyone who does not repent of sin.

We have a God of infinite grace and mercy, to drink of its source, one must acknowledge one’s shortcomings, sins and pray for forgiveness. It is hypocrisy to deny sin or to call evil for good. God awaits our humble recognition of our sins to take us back. Living in exile was the same as living in sin, "de profundis", God comes to our salvation. We cannot accept sin as Christians, by invoking mercy. God will recover s from our self-exile which sin has caused. We cannot doubt that God does this. The author of the Letter to Hebrew reminds us that Jesus is our high priest who has compassion for us (Ps 2: 7, Ps 110: 4).

The Lord said to the apostles when he stood among them: "Peace be with you all." Three times we hear these words. These words were not directed exclusively to the Apostles but to all people through all ages would believe in the word of the gospel. But an important question is whether Christ's peace has been realized in the world. The answer is no if we look around the world and see the many conflicts, wars, wickedness, evil in our world. There are about sixty nations in which conflicts and war exist and around five hundred and forty militant groups and separatist groups involved in these. One in four people in the world live in areas suffering from violent conflict. This means that 1.5 billion live in conflict-filled nations. Conflicts and war create mass problems and affect most the poor, children and women. It creates refugees and affects people in other countries. And the number of refugees in the world has increased almost three times in the past thirty years. Is it because the words of Christ have not found home in most people. Therefore, the prerequisites for peace is lacking. We know that God's Word is always true, and God is faithful. People have lost what is necessary for peace to reign in the world, that is mercy.

Without the world's people, individuals and nations practicing mercy, we will never live in peace. Therefore, the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is incredibly relevant for our time. Pope Francis has repeatedly pointed out that our time must be the time of mercy. The values ​​of the gospel need to illuminate world politics so that it can lead to a harmonious world where mutual help and solidarity are important values ​​for humanity. So long different interests stand against each other, it is difficult to create peace between nations and individuals. God's mercy towards us urges us to go beyond our own interests and work for the common good. Only in this way can Christ's peace really be with us.

Jesus appears to the disciples several times after his resurrection. He was among them in both visible and invisible forms for forty days before he disappeared from their sight. During these forty days, Jesus helps them to train their eyes of faith.  Do not doubt, but believe, "Jesus says to Thomas. Unfortunately, there is much that causes people to doubt their faith in God and Christ, among other things, it is the difficulty of life, suffering, injustice, natural disasters, apostasy, the godless, atheists, agnostics and sceptics who seem to have more comfortable life than most believers. When Thomas touched the holes, the nails made on Jesus, it was no longer faith but knowledge. Only those who have not seen yet believe are blessed. We who believe have life in him. Jesus uses Thomas's lack of faith to teach, to strengthen us in our faith. He comes to Thomas's unbelief for our sake. Many doubt because they want to have knowledge first, they want to have all the experience first. They do not want to trust the testimony of others. In Tomas, we see the Christians who are slain when they hear or see other Christians' powerful experience in the Lord. In Thomas, Jesus thinks of all who in the future will be sceptical and have difficulty believing. Our lives must be borne by faith in God, by trust in the God of love. To believe is to walk in the light. It is strange but interesting that Thomas did not believe that Jesus had risen when he was told by the other apostles.

Evangelist Johannes emphasizes in a very special way that Jesus is God, and at the same time truly human (John 1: 1). Thanks to Thomas’ lack of faith, Jesus uses to strengthen us in our faith. Thomas would believe only in what can be proved (John 20:25). The Lord truly lives as a human being. Thomas was able to touch him. In Jesus' body after the resurrection, we see a glimpse of our own body when it is glorified. It deals with the nature of the encounter with the risen Lord. Christ now has a cosmic body and his transformed body is the place where we humans enter communion with God and each other so that we can forever live in the fullness of the indestructible life. Jesus is the living, life himself, from which also we receive life (John 14:19). Only the believer defeats the world. Therefore, Jesus said to Thomas: "Do not doubt, but believe!" You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen but still believe. "

With Thomas, all of Jesus' disciples, perhaps after many crises, doubts and unbelief pronounce their final yes and acknowledge that Jesus is God. With Thomas we put our hands in the pierced side of Jesus and confess: My Lord and my God "(John 20:28). Our faith changes everything on earth. Our faith is a kind of inner eye and light with which we experience existence and let us know Jesus' presence in our lives. In this context, we can find that Jesus is not someone who has returned to a normal biological life and then according to the laws of biology must die one day. Jesus is no spirit in the sense that he really belongs to the kingdom of death, but in some way can make himself visible in the world of the living. The meetings with Jesus are not mysterious experiences, from a person who for a moment is lifted out of himself and experiences the eternal world of divinity, then returning to the normal state of existence. For example, Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus was an event in history, a meeting with the living while his mysterious experience in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-4 was not. The resurrection of Christ is something that has happened in history but at the same time goes beyond it. The decisive factor is that Jesus' resurrection does not mean that a dead individual, in one way or another, came back to life, instead of being an event of ontological nature affecting the whole existence. It affects us all in all times and places.

The resurrection is not a historical event of the same kind as Jesus' birth or crucifixion. It's something new, a new kind of event. At the same time, it does not stand outside or above history. The resurrection of Jesus leads the story and has left footprints in history. Nothing else would have made the apostolic preaching possible without a real encounter with the risen Jesus. Christ appeared, spoke and ate with them. There is much we can wonder about and ask about the resurrection of Jesus, but everything is part of God's secret. Mercy is a fruit of love, an experience of grace. It makes someone sacrifice for the others. This characterizes someone who has had a meeting with the risen Christ. When we can see ourselves as we are, we can only pray for mercy and grace. It is only when we can see ourselves in the light of God that we can practice mercy. Chikezie Onuoha MSP

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