Sunday of Divine Mercy
April 23, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Acts 2:42-47 / Ps 118 / 1 Pt 1:3-9 / Jn 20:19-31
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A little more than ten years ago, a man by the name of Charles Roberts went to a one-room Amish school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and cold-bloodedly shot ten Amish schoolgirls, killing five of them before he killed himself. But in the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn’t cast blame. They didn’t point fingers. They didn’t hold press conferences with lawyers at their sides. What they did instead was reach out with compassion toward the killer’s family.
That same day, Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain. Later that week, the Roberts family was even invited to the funeral of one of the Amish girls who had been killed. And the majority of those who attended the funeral service for the killer came from the Amish community, who were family members, relatives, and friends of the victims.
It wasn’t surprising that many people all over the world were asking the question, “How could they forgive such a terrible, unprovoked act of violence against innocent lives?” The short answer is that the Amish, just like all of us Christians, follow the teachings of Jesus, the King of Mercy. They clearly take the commandment of the Lord seriously, when He said: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”
Today we are celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy, and we are once again being reminded by our Holy Mother Church that we have a God who is merciful and forgiving.
In the gospel that we have just heard, after our Lord’s Resurrection, He wanted His disciples and their successors to continue this ministry of forgiving love. And so He said to them: “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”
But the reality is that there are millions of people who are not able to understand God’s infinite mercy. And that is why they are having difficulty forgiving others and themselves.
In the words of Our Lord Jesus to Saint Faustina, He said: “The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on Me. But let this not sadden you so much. You are dealing with a God of mercy, which your misery could not exhaust. Remember I did not allot a certain number of pardons. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Our Lord Jesus is also asking us, his followers, to let others know about His unfathomable mercy.
Terri Roberts, the mother of Charles Roberts, once said, “For the mother and father who had lost not just one, but two daughters at the hand of our son – for them to come up and be the first ones to greet us – Wow. Is there anything in this life that we should not forgive?” And it was probably her experience from the forgiving attitude of the Amish community that made her say, “Ask God to provide new things in your life, new things to focus on. That doesn’t take the place of what is lost, but it can give us hope and a future.”
She is now sharing this message with those who have experienced trauma. The sacred scriptures tell us that this kind of future that she is talking about is made possible by the unconditional forgiveness we give and receive.
Later in this Mass, as we pray together the Lord’s Prayer and ask our Lord Jesus to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, let us also ask Him to give us the grace that we may be able to spread the good news of His unfathomable mercy.