Sunday of Divine Mercy (Second Sunday of Easter)
April 3, 2016 – Year C
Readings: Acts 5:12-16 / Ps 118 / Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 / Jn 20:19-31
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Not too long ago, a Catholic priest told his congregation in one of his Sunday homilies: “This may shock some of you, but I’m going to tell you that Christianity is not a good idea.” He added, “Christianity is not a great idea. In fact, it is not even an idea. Christianity is a personal relationship with our living God who loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to dwell among us, so He would be able to relate to us in a deeply personal way.”
When we come to Church to attend Mass or join in any of the prayer or liturgical services, we are not here to listen to great or wonderful ideas on how to live our lives. We are here to strengthen and continue to develop our personal experience with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is present in His living words and present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist.
This is what we all believe: that Jesus is not only teaching us about God’s love and mercy, but Jesus is God’s love and mercy personified.
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Divine Mercy. Many of us here went through the Thirty-Three Days of Morning Glory study that guides us to a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a few days we will begin a series called “Consoling the Heart of Jesus.” The author of the book on which the series is based is Father Michael Gaitley.
Father Michael fondly recalls the time when his father, who had cancer, was sitting in front of the image of the Divine Mercy. After the Mass, according to Father Michael, his dad told him, “Don’t tell your mother about this, but that picture over there (pointing to the Divine Mercy): you see those rays? They’re doing something to me.” And Father Michael says that his father later went to the doctor, who announced that his cancer was gone.
Dr. Hartko of our sister parish Resurrection sent me a link to a video that shows the Miracle of the Dancing Sun that occurred three years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday. This occurred in El Salvador City in the Philippines on the mountain called Divine Mercy Hill. This was witnessed by more than ten thousand people. (Father Gaitley’s testimony is available online. The Miracle of the Dancing Sun that took place in El Salvador, Philippines can be seen on YouTube.)
But here is a story that is not available on YouTube or anywhere. I was there when this happened. I was only a little more than a year in the priesthood and was an Associate Pastor in one of the biggest parishes in Manila.
One afternoon, while I was having a cup of coffee with my pastor, Monsignor Jose, we heard a commotion and shouting on the second floor of the church’s Pastoral Center building. Since I was much younger than him, I ran ahead of Monsignor to see what was going on. When I got there, I saw a middle-aged woman shrieking and screaming and being pinned down on the floor by about seven people. But she seemed to be a lot stronger than all of them. I was reminded of one of the scenes in the movie “The Exorcist” when I saw her.
The parishioners asked me to pray over her. But I didn’t have any experience with deliverance prayers – I didn’t have Holy Oil, I didn’t have Holy Water, or my Book of Rituals. The only thing I had in hand was a cup of coffee. But I was a priest and I was expected to pray. Before I could even start praying, the woman who looked as though she was possessed by a demon, shouted, “Where is that Monsignor priest? He is coming. I hate him.”
Now I noticed that Monsignor was walking really, really slowly, coming towards us. And at that time, I was wondering how this woman knew that Monsignor was coming when her eyes were closed. Monsignor was known as the priest who could drive out demons, and he was good at Deliverance Prayer. So I expected him to pray one of those Latin rituals, the prayer for deliverance. But instead he prayed the beginning of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
When he came to the point where everyone prayed, “Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You,” that seemingly possessed woman again shrieked and cried out in a loud voice, and then she calmed down. In just a couple of minutes, she returned to her normal self, and she could talk as if nothing had happened. She was fine after that and she lived happily ever after. The last I heard, that woman was still very much around; she still goes to church. But afterwards, Monsignor noticed that as a newly ordained priest, I just couldn’t believe what had happened. He told me “That’s the power of the Divine Mercy. All you need to do is to trust in Jesus and everything will be fine.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, may our Lord Jesus, the King of Mercy whose body, blood, soul, and divinity we will receive in Holy Communion a few minutes from now, give us the grace and the strength that we may continue to put our trust in Him.