Friday, April 21, 2017

Homily Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy) ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy) ABC:  Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Acts 2:42-47;
·         Ps 118:2-4,13-15,22-24;
·          1 Pet 1:3-9 (A);
·         Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6 (B);
·          Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13,17-19 (C)
·         John 20:19-31(ABC)
Bearing Witness to Divine Mercy!
Happy Easter to you all! Last Sunday we joyfully celebrated Easter Sunday. It was a special day the Lord had made for us as individuals and as a Church. The joy of that day, of the mystery of Christ’s ministerial life of mercy, compassion, healing, forgiveness, death and resurrection, continues in our hearts, homes, families, work places, churches, parishes, dioceses, for almost seven weeks, 50 days, until the Pentecost!
The more reason, the Church, during the papacy of Saint John Paul II, and since April of the year 2000, has combined the joy of the Easter celebration with the acknowledgement of the true nature of God.  What is this nature of God? Or of his Son, the Jesus of Easter? Answers to this question is rooted in many places in  the scripture, OT and NT. The nature of the Jesus of Easter is mercy. He is merciful. He is righteous. He is just. He is kind. He is forgiving. He is slow to anger and bounding in love (Exod 34:5-7; Micah 7:18-20).  The more reason he went through the events of that Palm Sunday and Good Friday on our behalf.  To wash away our sins. He went to the Cross on our behalf and teaches us how to endure, like the Suffering Servants of 2nd Isaiah. He teaches us how to hope, how to forgive, and how to bear witness to divine mercy. This is the vision and the nature of God that Sister Faustina, a Polish Saint, also experienced and witnessed, whose shrine I visited with pilgrims in 2015.
In fact, the opening prayer of this Mass sets the tone for the joy of this day, and invites us to imitate Sister Faustina in bearing witness to Divine Mercy. It says,
“God of everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast, kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace  you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand, in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose blood they have been redeemed.”
Today’s bible readings also fit this theme “Bearing Witness to Divine Mercy.” It is the Spirit of the Lord that enables the early Christian community of the 1st reading, Acts of the Apostles to abandon their egos and selfishness and live, pray together, and share meals together, be forgiving to one another and be generous to one another as Christ had taught them. With all the homilies we have preached and heard, with all the sacraments we have celebrated, with all the catechism and bible classes we have taught and attended since our baptism, how many of us today, are willing to share our bread and possession with the poor,- that has remained the center- peace of Pope Francis’ ministry? This is Divine Mercy. How many are willing to bear witness to Divine Mercy?
The entire event of Christ, his life, dead and resurrection are an events of Divine Mercy. Peter in the 2nd also captures this so well, when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy (note that, who in his great mercy) gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefined, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3-9)
God’s mercy, from the beginning to the end; from creation to the resurrection, is the source of our salvation. What can we do without the mercy of God through the Christ of Easter?
Today’s Gospel of John is a teaching Gospel about Divine mercy.. It intensifies Divine Mercy of God in action. Christ mercifully appears to the disillusioned disciples, the first time, after his resurrection. He encourages them. He brings them peace and joy and wishes them well. He breathed his spirit of mercy, love, kindness and compassion on them saying, “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
In other words, inviting them to bear witness to Divine Mercy. He further sets an example by forgiving the doubting Thomas of his unbelief, doubts and skepticism. And reminds us that none of our weaknesses, doubts, frailties, and faithlessness are too difficult for God to forgive- provided we are willing to say like Thomas “My Lord and my God.” He also reminds us that none of our neighbors’, spouses’ friends’ weaknesses is too difficult to forgive provided we allow the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in us, to work in us, to take effect in us.
Today’s celebration challenges us to listen to Pope Francis. It challenges us share our bread possessions with our neighbors. It challenges us not to be too harsh even on ourselves. It challenges us to appreciate the sacrament of penance. It challenges us to bear witness to divine mercy. To love one another. To show mercy, spiritually and corporally to those we encounter each day, especially the poor, the needy and to those in prisons.
Reflection Questions:
1.    In the light of today’s bible readings, who is God or the Jesus of Easter for you?
2.    How do you share God’s grace and mercy with members of your faith community of neighbors?
3.    Can you relate to Thomas of today’s Gospel?
4.    With all the homilies we have preached and heard, with all the sacraments we have celebrated, with all the catechism and Bible classes we have taught and attended since our baptism, how many of us today, are willing to share our bread and possession with the poor?