- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

April 19, 2020

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

2nd Sunday of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday

Maybe it’s because today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and I was assigned to give
the homily. However that may be, I came across some free advice from Jacob
of Serugh, one of the Syriac Fathers. He said, “You teachers of the divine
secrets, speak with love. Whoever teaches and does not love had better be
silent, because his work is in vain and he is not gaining souls. The wise man,
if he wants to gain his disciples, has to love much and talk little.”

St Peter who wrote the passage that we heard in the second reading this
morning, was certainly a wise man by that standard. St John tells us that when
Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know
everything, you know that I love you!” Peter may have been a slow learner,
but he never forgot the importance of loving Jesus. He wrote about it in his
first letter: “Although you have not seen him you love him”. We still don’t see
him, but we trust him, and if we keep on believing, we’ll get what we’re
looking forward to: Divine Mercy.

In the first reading from Acts, we see love for Jesus put into action. All the
believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They
sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s
need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship followed by meals
at home. That’s not a bad description of what monastic life is like, even today:
a vow of poverty, community life, and a daily discipline of worship in the
monastic church. People in general liked what they saw in these early
Christians and in faithful monks: love for Jesus put into action.

It all goes back to that first Easter Sunday, when Jesus came and stood in their
midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”. When he put himself among his
disciples on that day, he took the central place, taking possession of the throne
which rightly puts Divine Mercy at the heart of world history. For people of
all times, for all the earth, for the visible and invisible universe, Jesus breathed
Divine Mercy on the disciples, bringing and creating peace.

On that day Jesus, who was dead, but is now the one who lives, took his place
in the midst of the whole human race, the over-confident and the fearful, the
secular and the religious, inasmuch as he is Lord of all. Among all pandemics
and disasters, all wars and revolutions, among addictions and abortions,
among the ebb and flow of all human affliction whether innocent or guilty:
among all these he showed and revealed himself as Divine Mercy. He said to
everyone in need: “Peace be with you” and showed them his hands and his
side. He knows what it means to be wounded as we are.

Blessed are we who have not seen, but still believe that Divine Mercy remains
the center around which everything else is moving, from which everything
comes, and to which everything is leading. There are many ideas and trends in
this changing world, but Divine Mercy is the one that will outlast them all,
even when all our systems have had their day. For everything has its time, but
God’s mercy endures for ever, because Jesus’ triumph over sin and death
endures for ever. Because of the resurrection, we can never despair of God’s
mercy. As Thomas Merton wrote at the conclusion of The Sign of Jonas:
“What was cruel has become merciful. What is now merciful was never cruel.
I have always overshadowed Jonas with My mercy, and cruelty I know not at
all. Have you had sight of me, Jonas My child? Mercy within mercy within
mercy. I have forgiven the universe without end”.