Sunday, May 20, 2018

At the first Pentecost, Jesus chooses the very ones who abandoned and betrayed Him -- to be the wounded, forgiven healers that are to preach the Good News of God's gracious love and mercy.

I’m a big time Boston Celtics basketball fan.  One of the strengths of the Celtics is that they are a good defensive team.  They pride themselves on their ability to play a solid defense.

I give you the example of the Celtics as to illustrate the posture of the first apostles in the time before the Pentecost event.  They were huddled in the upper room behind locked doors out of fear.   They were clearly in a defensive posture, but unlike the Celtics, this was not a good place to be.   They were in a place of fear.

Defensive Christianity is not a biblical idea.  The posture of Christian disciples is not hiding in fear to protect themselves.  No, the disciples are sent.  To be a follower of Christ after his resurrection is to be sent.  In fact, our word “apostle” means “one who is sent.”

Personally when I worry about parish finances or pastoring in the face of criticism, it’s so easy to be defensive.  The grace all of us seek as Christian disciples is to be sent forth proactively to proclaim the Lord’s hope and joy in our midst.
 Jesus promised to send the Advocate, the Spirit that will guide us to all truth.  Jesus said to his first followers and to us:  “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  “Receive the Breath of God.”  In that moment, the Risen Christ raised those fearful, faithless disciples to newness of life.

This is what Pentecost is: the giving of the Spirit, the giving of new life, from the Father through the Son. The Holy Spirit is what makes it possible for people to go when they are sent. The Spirit is God's active, personal presence that accompanies those who are sent. Jesus says, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Go and forgive sins." That's what being gathered is all about: that the followers may be forgiven and renewed, sent and equipped, in order that all people may be reconciled to God by having their sins forgiven.

What would it like for you to possess the gift of forgiveness – the gift to forgive even those people in your life right now who don’t deserve it, even people who act unlovably?  This is the Gospel the Spirit impels the disciples to preach.  They can preach forgiveness because they have experienced it.

The Spirit-filled gift of forgiveness leads us to possess the gift of welcome – so much so that in our faith community there are no strangers or enemies.  Even more in our world, there are no strangers or enemies.

The Pentecost grace leads us to experience the gift of joy – all of life is a gift of God for which we are to be thankful.  Pope Francis calls to experience to experience the joy of the Gospel and to encounter the Lord and then to be missionary disciples who proclaim the joy of God’s love to one and all.

Now it may seem that the gifts of forgiveness, welcome, and joy seem too good to be true.   For all of us have been a little battle-scarred by the realities and fears of life.  Yet, we seek to experience Pentecost as the feast of locked doors.  Where are the locked doors in our lives?  Where do I find myself isolated in fear, living behind emotionally doors, and hanging on to anger and refusing to come out of hiding?

What are the fears, the insecurities, and the anxieties of your life that keep you behind emotional or spiritual locked doors?  Will I be accepted and loved if I step out of my comfort zone?  What keeps me from reaching out in service of a person in need?

With the grace of Pentecost, locked doors are blown open.  At the first Pentecost, Jesus chooses the very ones who abandoned and betrayed him – to be the wounded, forgiven healers that are to preach the Good News of God’s gracious love and mercy.  The strategy of Jesus is that the disciples were forgiven forgivers.

Jesus hasn’t changed his strategy with us.  Who are we as the faith community of Holy Spirit?  We are God’s forgiven sons and daughters.  In the feast of Pentecost, we receive the gift of forgiveness so that we will be sent forth to share the forgiveness and mercy of God with one another and with all.  Pentecost promises that the Holy Spirit can be released in each one of us so that we experience an inner peace of forgiveness and love.

How blest are we to be the Church of the Holy Spirit   -- the Church of the Pentecost event.  We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.  And yes, we are a Pentecostal people.  That is not to give us a cardiac arrest to think we are Pentecostal.  Rather, we are a faith community that is to claim the gifts and the charisms of the Holy Spirit that we were given on the Day of Pentecost.

The great truth of Pentecost – for the first disciples and us as well – is that the Holy Spirit has the power to enlarge and expand the human heart if we allow the Spirit of Jesus within us to grow and enliven us with the power to live, with the power to forgive, with the power to welcome and receive all others in Jesus’ name.  That power, the power of Pentecost becomes our own.

Today’s first Scripture reading tells the story of Pentecost for the first Christian disciples.  They experienced conversion.  Their lives were transformed.  They proclaimed the good news of the love of Jesus.  There was a fire in their bellies that shaped their entire lives.

On this day of Pentecost, as we now come to the Table of the Lord, may we reflect and claim our God-given giftedness.  Allow yourself to be loved by the Spirit of the Risen Christ.  I assure you if we allow ourselves to be loved by the Spirit of Jesus, our lives will be transformed with an inner peace and joy.  Then we will be energized in a Spirit-filled way to commit ourselves to using our God-given giftedness in the service of one another.

Have a Blessed Day.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jesus tells us to look for Christ in one another and to be Christ for one another.

Today at St Joseph’s,  it is the Seventh Sunday of the Easter Season; it is Mother’s Day; and it is First Communion Sunday.  This is the Day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Mothers, thank you for the love you share with your children, with your family, and with your parish family.  We thank God for our own mothers – living and deceased.  Our moms are most often the first people who have taught us to pray.  May we never forget to pray in the way and the manner that our moms have taught us to pray.

We celebrate First Communion another time at St. Joseph’s.  Thanks be to God.  Our precious First Communicants are a gift to our parish community; and in the sharing of the Eucharist together, we are more closely united to each other in the sharing of the Eucharist.  We ask God’s many blessings to be with our First Communicants this day and every day.

In the Upper Room on the Eve of His Passion, the Lord prayed for his disciples gathered around him in today’s Gospel’s account.  At the same time, he looked ahead to the community of disciples of all centuries.  In his prayer for all disciples of all time, he saw us too, and he prayed for us.  He prayed that we be consecrated in truth.

In today’s Gospel, we are listening to the prayer of Jesus to His heavenly Father. 

This takes place on the Last Supper with Jesus very conscious of His impending death on the cross.  Jesus does not see his death as an ending, but rather his going home to His heavenly Father.
Overhearing Jesus at prayer is our way of understanding the identity of Jesus and our participation in the divine plan.  The mission of Jesus is to become our mission.  What is this mission – to release divine love into the world.

May the prayer of Jesus be our prayer as well.  May we make the Lord’s name known; may we do the work the Lord has given to do; may we witness to the joy that is God’s gift to us; and may we be consecrated in truth.

To consecrate someone means to give that person to God.    We are set apart for God.  It is the journey of turning away from the world and a giving over of ourselves to the living God.   Being given over to God means being missioned to witness to divine love.  We must be available for others, for everyone.

Jesus does not pray that the Father take us out of this world, although he recognized the world can be a dangerous place to be.  Jesus prayed that we be protected from the evil, and that we live with joy, and that we be consecrated in truth.

Jesus tells us to look for Christ in one another and to be Christ for one another.

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

If we truly :"get" this one statement -- "As the Father loves me, so I also love you." --then we have understood a primary Gospel message.

For some time now in the world of Great Britain, the headlines have been abuzz:  Prince Harry will wed Megan Markle at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19th.  All the pageantry and pomp and splendor of this great spectacle are certain to be watched by millions.  There will be a horse-drawn, gold-lined carriage, the beauty of Megan’s wedding gown, the historic beauty of the Windsor Castle, and the inspiration of the ancient liturgy.

All of it will be scrutinized in a riveting fashion by people from every walk of life.  Why?  Because it’s a love story.  We can’t get enough of love stories.

There are the cherished love words of the apostle Paul describing both the mystery of human love and divine love:  Love is patient; Love is kind…Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…the greatest of these is love.

Jesus loved love stories too.

The heart of this Sunday Gospel addresses the issue of love head on:  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”  If we truly “get” this one statement –“As the Father loves me, so I also love you” – then we have understood a primary Gospel message.

Look back in the Gospels and see for yourself.  All of the great stories Jesus ever told – the prodigal son, the Good Samaritan, the woman caught in adultery, the washing of the feet, the cleansing of the lepers, the curing of the blind and the lame – all of these tell the same single tale:  Each of us is graciously, eternally and infinitely loved.
As a result of this boundless love relationship that Jesus offers to each of us, he makes only one single request – the very same one he gave to his disciples:  “This I command you:  love one another.”

What are the love stories of your life?  In your family life, with the love you share with your spouse, with the love you share with your children and grandchildren, does this not make you more aware of how your life is blessed?  The love you receive in your family life is a precious, precious gift.  Equally the love you give to your family makes you a better person. 

For myself, I have had so many opportunities to experience the love story of my priestly ministry.  Recently, I presided at the funeral liturgy of my brother-in-law Larry Hill – a brother-in-law who was a brother to me.  During this liturgy, I could feel the love of my sister Anne for her husband of so many years;  my heart went to my sister in her grieving.  Their sons, Matthew, Kevin, and Justin, shared beautifully their love for their dad; my brother and sister proclaimed the Scripture readings; grandnephews were the altar servers; and Larry’s granddaughters led us in the intercessions.   As I reflected on this liturgy, I was very much in touch with the love that I experience in our family life.

Going back to the words of Jesus, “As the Father loves, so I also love you.”  How do you experience the love of Jesus in the ordinary moments of your day?   As I walk down the corridor of St Joseph’s School at the beginning of the school day, I am moved by the precious gift of our school children -- their simple enthusiasm and love of life is such a beautiful God moment for me.

I so invite you to be grateful for the God moments that are a regular part of your day  --  the sunshine of the day, a friendly smile from someone you hardly know, or someone expressing gratitude for your help and thoughtfulness.

In today’s Gospel, you are given a sitting at the Last Supper as the Gospel is taken from the conversation Jesus had with the apostles on the night before He died.  I remind you of three actions of Jesus at the Last Supper that reveal the entirety of the Gospel.
--the institution of the Eucharist in which bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ Himself.  We are a Eucharistic community who give thanks to the Lord our God and are fed and nourished at the Table of the Lord.
            --Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to give us an example that we are to do likewise.  We are to wash the feet of God’s poor and we are to serve one another following the example of Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.

            --Thirdly, Jesus spoke those words to us:  “As the Father loves me, so I love you.”  Plain and simple, we are God’s beloved.  May we know and experience the love of God each and every day.  As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we are told in the commandment given to us  is that we are to share what we have been given.

My prayerful question for you is:  what loving words can you speak to help others understand God's presence?   In talking recently to a dad and his son, dad wanted his son to experience the love of Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  In his own way, the son was motivating his dad to make the Eucharist more a part of his life as well.  What was so beautiful was that dad and son were speaking words of love to each other.

What words of love can we speak to the needy and the poor in their midst?  Do the poor in our midst hear words of love being spoken to them by the faith community of St Joseph’s?

Will the members of your family hear words of love that you speak today?

Will I speak words of love to the parishioners in need on this day?

As a result of this boundless love relationship that Jesus offers to each of us, he makes only one single request – the very same one he gave to his disciples:  “This I command you:  love one another.”

Have a Blessed Day.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Our spirituality is rooted in our relationship with Jesus: I am the vine; you are the branches.

On this the Fifth Sunday of the joyous Easter Season, we begin to focus on our mission of discipleship as we head toward the great feast of Pentecost.
The Gospel for this Sunday and next Sunday is taken from the 15th of John’s Gospel – part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse on the night before He died.  This chapter is sometimes the Gospel of Friendship as Jesus calls us his friends.  Of the many ways of describing Jesus in our lives -- as Lord, as Savior, as God – Jesus also invites to call Him friend.
In the fourth verse of this 15th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says:  “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.”  Our spirituality is rooted in our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus offers us divine intimacy -- Make your home in me as I make mine in you.
Just as the defining element of family life is the love that is shared by each member of the family, the defining element of our discipleship of the Lord Jesus is the love we give and receive from Jesus and the love we give and receive for all of God’s people.
The evangelist John in today’s Gospel account wanted the disciples of Jesus to become with one with Jesus.  This was even more there was an institution of the Church.  After more than two thousand years, the message of Jesus is still focused on making your home in me as I make mine in you.
Jesus uses the beautiful metaphor:  “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  This is such a powerful image of the Church.  Jesus is the vine and the anchor of our lives and we are the branches.  What gives life to us as the People of God is that we are connected to Jesus.
Jesus has told us that without me you can do nothing.  If the branches are cut off from the vine, they wither and die.  If we are cut off from Jesus, we too lose our life-giving qualities.
They tell the story of a dad who was alienated from his children causing considerable pain in the family.  He had chosen to live by myself separated from his family.  His daughter went to visit him this one particular evening and they were sitting quietly near the fire space.  Then Mary quietly removed one of the logs from the fire place.  Her dad immediately reacted and asked why in the name of heaven did you do that?
Mary calmly said that this is how she feels when you, dad, cut yourself off from the love of your family.  With tears in his eyes, dad got the message and hugged his daughter.
What happens when we separate ourselves from the love of Christ?  As a branch cannot live apart from the trunk of the tree, we cannot spiritually live apart from Jesus.  I am the vine; you are the branches,
What keeps the church together at its best is Jesus.  Human leadership, moral authority, ritual dogmatism are not the center of the church.  Leadership can fail, moral authority can take wrong turnings and ritual dogmatism can override the concerns of people. The center of the church is Jesus Christ. Our unity with Jesus is the central bond of the church. He is the Vine, we the branches.
Jesus that goes on to say that every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  As to we move toward the great feast of Pentecost in which we are missioned to continue the mission of Jesus, Jesus desires to do some pruning of our very selves.  The goal always is to bear much fruit, to bring as much life into this world as the vine of Jesus originally produced.  No one could pull this off by himself or herself.  It all revolves around being branches of the Risen Jesus.
Recently my computer developed a little virus which managed to give me a bit of a headache trying to figure things out.  Plain and simple, this virus needed to be pruned out of my computer system. 
So too, in your discipleship of the Lord Jesus, what spiritual viruses need to be pruned to anchor yourself more fully in Christ Jesus?  What areas of your life is Jesus not yet Lord?  Could it be that I am too attached to what others think of me?  Our pride, our ego can get the best of many of us.   Am I too attached to the material stuff of my life?  Who is the person that I need to forgive to carry out the mandate that as we are forgiven, we are to forgive one another.
In what ways as a parish faith community do we need to be pruned by the Lord Himself for us to more faithfully witness to the love of Jesus to one another and to all?  Does our celebration of the Eucharist lead to glorify God by the way we live our lives?  Is there an obvious connection between our prayer and the actions of our lives?  Can we share ourselves more fully with the poor and the needy among us?
In the first Scripture reading, when Saul arrived in Jerusalem, the disciples were afraid of him.  Paul is ostracized when he tries to graft into the Christian community.  Barnabas, his advocate, stands in Paul’s defense.  Paul would bring new flavor to the true vine, and they were afraid of him.  Who am I afraid of?
Please God we will always welcome new members who wish to be grafted into our faith community.  The only requirement necessary is that all of us are connected and anchored in Jesus as the center of our lives.

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Who and What helps you to recognize the voice of Jesus as the Good Shepherd of your life?

Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday -- the 4th Sunday of the Easter Season.  This is what Jesus says about himself:  "I am the Good Shepherd...My sheep know my voice.  They hear my voice and follow me."

Think about the voices in your life.  What is the dominant voice that you listen to?  Whose voice do you recognize and then know you are safe and very much loved.  Who are the good voices in your life?

I pray that you are clearly able to identify the voices in your life in which which you know that you are safe and very much loved.  Who in your family speaks words of unconditional love to you?  Treasure and value highly the people you love and the people who love you.  Who in our faith community speaks words to you to assure you that you are very much loved.  We are to be the witnesses to each other of God's unconditional love.

As we reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd of our lives, we affirm that our spirituality is primarily about relationships -- our relationship with God and with one another.  Yes, there are rules to be kept  -- no doubt about that,  but more than that, the imagery of the Jesus as the Good Shepherd reveals the depth of intimacy that the Lord Jesus has for each of us.

On  this First Communion Day in the life of the parish, we pray for and celebrate that our First Communicants and their families are even more deeply rooted in the sacramental life of our parish community.  Thanks  be to God.

Have a Blessed Day.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Easter message is that we are forgiven, and that we are to forgive one another,

Throughout the centuries, Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness has been difficult for Christians to live out.   And yet each and everyday day we pray in the Lord’s Prayer:   “Forgive us our trepasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

We honestly need to ask ourselves:  When you struggle to forgive, what holds you back?”  Are we free to forgive, and if not, why not?  I in my head I forgive everyone on the face of the earth easily.  This is the command of the Lord.  But when my ego has been damaged by a cutting remark from a someone, I too easily get derailed and can stew over a hurt for too long.  Forgiveness then becomes more of a challenge.  Then I have to let go of my own ego and the need to strike back, and open myself up to what God is offering me -- the beautiful, beautiful gift of forgiveness.

Many of us left to our own devices have difficulty forgiving those who have hurt us.  Thus, we need to rely on the grace of God to help us forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven.

Forgiveness is a major theme in Luke’s account of Jesus’ passion.    As Luke reflects on Jesus’ death, he discerns a call for human acceptance of divine mercy.  Jesus forgives the repentant thief on the cross.  Jesus even forgives those who crucify him.
In Luke’s mind, asking for forgiveness is essential to the Christian life; calling others to do the same is crucial to evangelization.  The light of the resurrection frees us from death’s shadow.  Our message is credible only when our words and example reveal that we are truly free to give to others the gift that God first gave us.

A powerful example of the extraordinary grace of forgiveness can be seen in the life of Nelson Mandela -- the first black elected president of South Africa back in 1994.  Before being elected President, Nelson was sentenced to life imprisonment for speaking against segregation and the apartheid policy in South Africa.  He was sentenced to prison for conspiring to overthrow the South African government.

When Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island at dawn on a frigid, rainy morning in July, 1964, it fast became clear to the African prison officials that he commanded great respect among the inmates, that he was a natural leader. As a consequence, they singled him out for punishment and humiliation.

Mr. Mandela was released from prison 27 years later and won the respect and love of his people so much that he was elected president. An aide asked Mr. Mandela to provide a list of people he wished to invite to his inauguration dinner as president of South Africa. The great figures of the liberation struggle would be there, of course, but the sole name on which Mr. Mandela is said to have insisted was that of a prison guard that had humiliated him while in prison.

Mr. Mandela lived an extraordinary life, but he will be remembered for one quality above all others: his capacity to forgive, and to turn that forgiveness into a visible reconciliation. He had a phenomenal, grace-filled ability to rise above bitterness and rancour, and clearly had made a conscious decision that forgiveness was the Gospel path for the liberation of black Africans.

 Not only did it redouble international fascination with him, but even more important, all South Africans began to be credited with the same miraculous capacity for forgiveness.

It is to the heart of the Gospel message that the forgiveness God offers is ours for the asking.  Thanks be to God.  It is also to the heart of the Gospel that we need to give to others what has been given to us.  We are to forgive one another.

Pope Francis in his recently released apostolic exhortation Gaudete and Exsultate says:  “The yardstick we use for understanding and forgiving others will measure the forgiveness we receive.  The yardstick we use for giving will measure what we receive.”

In today’s Gospel, we are to witness and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  We need to recognize and confess our own sinfulness.  Yes, we are sinners.  In the Penitential Rite of the Mass and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we confess and repent of our sinfulness and ask for the forgiveness of God.

The Easter message is that we are forgiven and we are to forgive.   The repentance we seek is the recognition that we need to die to the demons and the sinfulness of our live so we can more fully share in the life of the Risen Lord.  What demon do your need to die to, and to what demon do I need to die to so that I and we can witness and preach the Lord’s message of forgiveness.

We have gathered to celebrate the presence of the Risen Lord among us. We are called to be the people who bear witness to his victory over death. We are the people who proclaim the Father’s forgiveness to the ends of the earth by being people who are forgiving.

The place to seek for peace and a forgiving heart is at the center of our own lives, then in our immediate personal world, then in the world that touches our lives, and then beyond. May we follow the example of Nelson Mandela who had been unjustly imprisoned and beaten for 27 years.  He was a beautiful example of all the citizens of South Africa of the Gospel quality of forgiveness by inviting his prison guard to his inauguration celebration as president.  Please God we need more government leaders who value the Christ-like quality of forgiveness.  As we seek peace in our hearts and in our world, may we proclaim the Easter message that we are forgiven and we are to forgive.  As you discern the Easter grace of forgiveness, who in your life do you need to forgive as your way of paying forward the forgiveness that the Lord showers upon you?

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

On Divine Mercy Sunday, first and foremost, Jesus is the face of the Father's Divine Mercy. In the Gospel, Jesus shares with Thomas the merciful love of God.

St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish sister, reported visions and visitations from Jesus and conversations with Him.  Jesus asked her to paint the vision of His Merciful Divinity being poured from His sacred heart and specifically for a feast of Divine Mercy to be established on the First Sunday after Easter.  St John Paul II declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday on April 11, 2000.

First and foremost, Jesus is the face of the Father’s Divine Mercy.  Today is the Day of Mercy -- Divine Mercy.  In the Gospel, Thomas is the recipient of the merciful love of Jesus.  Thomas then proclaims the beautiful statement of faith – “My Lord and my God.”  Indeed Thomas was invited by the Lord Himself to encounter the merciful love of God. 

I invite you to consider the faith journey of the apostle Thomas on this Divine Mercy Sunday.  The popular interpretation of Thomas is that he is ‘doubting Thomas’ -- seen in a bit of a negative light.  I invite you to revisit this Easter gospel and see Thomas as a model of faith.  Why?  He was the gracious recipient of God’s Divine Mercy.

When you think about this?  Thomas was right to insist before he could believe in Jesus’ resurrection, he must see the holes the nails made in his hands, put his finger into the holes and his hand into the great wound made by the centurion’s lance.  I suggest Thomas is teaching the important lesson that we must not separate the resurrection from the cross.  We are the disciples of the crucified as well as the risen Lord. 

We cannot live the life of grace, the risen life, authentically unless we bear in our bodies the wounds of the cross.  This means being conscious that we develop the capacity to love and be loved only by dying to ourselves.  Our wounds are also a constant reminder of our frailty, and that it is God’s grace that raises us up to new life.

Thank you Thomas for bringing honesty into our faith, for helping to acknowledge at times that there are areas in our life that Jesus is not yet Lord.  Thomas didn’t pretend that he was better than he was. He began by wanting proof and ended by being glad of faith.  He is the patron saint of transitions and steps in faith.  Faith is a journey.  He is the saint of faith in our times. 

Lord, we also thank you for friends, leaders and spiritual guides who challenge us as Jesus challenged Thomas.  But may we like Thomas know that we need to see the scars and the wounds for us also to believe in resurrection and new life.  Thomas professes the true faith of the Church.  We too must insist that the Jesus we follow is the true Jesus, the one whose risen body bears the wounds of Calvary.

The community was the place Thomas found faith, having lost it when he tried to go it alone.  Then he came back to the community of faith and went on a journey of life that took him to martyrdom in India.  The journey of faith of each one of us is unique.  But it is the plan of Jesus that we are better together as a parish community rather than as isolated individuals.  This was the experience of the apostle Thomas, and I suggest that in this community may you experience again the merciful love of Jesus in the love we have for each other as a parish community.

The faith journey of Thomas illustrates so beautifully the need of each one to us to grow in our journey of faith in the mist of community, in the midst of the parish community of the Church of the Holy Spirit.  We are better together.  The Easter gift given to us the Risen Lord is gift of new life and we are missioned to be life-giving for others.

On Divine Mercy Sunday, we pray the Divine Mercy chaplet celebrating God’s merciful love; we celebrate this Sacrament of the Eucharist as the supreme example of God’s Divine Mercy given to us.  We also receive and value the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We are a people missioned to be Forgiven and Forgiving.  God’s Divine Mercy shares the gift of peace and forgiveness with us, and we are missioned to share the gift of forgiveness with one and all.

The Bible describes mercy as a gift of God, a gift that is to be given to those who need it.  Celebrating the abiding faithfulness of God, we the Church of the Holy Spirit are to circulate mercy, to pay it forward irrespective of deservedness, inviting one and all to experience the merciful love of Jesus.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, it is worth reflecting and pausing to see if there is a side of us that is a doubting Thomas and there is a side of us that is the believing Thomas.  Each one of us is unique.  This is not by accident.  It is by God’s design.   Jesus is pleased to give Thomas the assurance he is looking for, and then challenges him to look forward to the day when he will believe without seeing – always in the Jesus who passes through death to resurrection.

Jesus on this Divine Mercy Sunday is pleased to give what you are looking for in your journey of faith.  Jesus does not want His Body, the Church, to remain in the tomb but always raise her up to new life.  Each of us is not to remain in the tomb of our doubts, of our fears, of our anxieties.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, may live in a state of thanksgiving for God’s redemptive mercy that is shared with each and every one of us.  And may the Gospel we proclaim help us to recognize that scars are the pathway to our sharing in the Risen life of Christ.  This was the journey of the apostle Thomas.  It is the journey for each one of us.

Have a blessed day.