Peace be with you! He is Risen. Alleluia.
I write this from our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. It is at this location and that of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, that I am learning to serve. My formator’s homily from this Sunday’s liturgy noted that our ordination to the Holy Order of Deacons is approaching. In a little over one year from now, god-willing, the eighteen of us will be mercifully ordained for service at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. But, formation has not always been easy and the effort that I apply to this transformational process has occasionally been subpar.
Each and every Christian, by the nature of our baptisms are called to be conformed to Christ. And, each sacramental grace we receive aids us in the process of unifying ourselves to Christ and his merciful love.
Practically speaking: How often do you find yourself not satisfied with the work of your hands? Do you occasionally miss deadlines at work? Are your projects often not of the calibre you’d prefer? Maybe, you did not get that promotion that you were seeking due to a lack of dedication at work. Possibly, because of procrastination you narrowly missed that passing grade on the most difficult examination of the year? At some point in the past, have you not been the best son or daughter, wife or husband, brother or sister, or friend?
Spiritually speaking: Sin is “missing the mark”. A perfectly fitting analogy is that of archery. In that moment, Sin is when you shoot that arrow and find yourself not hitting the spiritual bullseye. How often do you miss opportunities to express the love of Christ to others?
I do not think I am alone in this sad reality. Time and time again, no matter the task asked of me, I am daily reminded of how much I rely on God’s mercy.
For a moment, let’s take Thomas in today’s Gospel reading who was desperately in need of the Divine Mercy of Jesus. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” I’d like to suggest that Thomas is displaying symptoms of being a “lukewarm disciple” and someone who is in desperate need of God’s mercy. He spent the last several years living with Christ. And, yet, as soon as the Lord is physically and spiritually distant from him, he disconnects from Christ completely by choosing to not believe he had resurrected.
Is there anyone more in need of the mercy of God than someone who is lukewarm to Christ?
Jesus visited Saint Faustina Kowalska repeatedly for several years and asked her to pray for the souls who have become lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of the mercy of God. In her visions of Christ, Christ spoke the following, “These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy”.
Saint Peter reminds us that through our Lord's passion, death, and resurrection we have become “God’s people”.
Once you were “no people” but now you are God’s people; You “had not received mercy”, but now you have received mercy.
My friends, the remaining question that I ask you to contemplate in your private prayer is the following: Am I seeking to rely on Christ’s mercy moment by moment? Or, am I distancing myself from Christ and his Church becoming a “lukewarm” Christian?
Again, we quote our Lord to St. Faustina:
Jesus said, “When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.” (Jesus, Diary 1074).
How can we approach the Lord with trust? Firstly, by living in Christian community with our fellow baptized brothers and sisters and taking up responsibilities of service. Secondly, by spending time daily in prayer with our Lord asking for help with the tasks he gives us. Thirdly, by receiving the graces of Mercy only found in the sacrament of confession when we “miss the mark”.
On this, Divine Mercy Sunday, each of us can rejoice! We celebrate the source of our joy which is the Mercy of God. Let us learn from the example of Saint Thomas and seek the mercy of Christ. Let us be the people that Christ is calling us to become. I desire to no longer be “lukewarm”, to resist temptation to miss the mark, and to radiate to others the “abundance of graces” that Christ gives me out of his Divine Mercy.
Let us go now to Worship our Lord, Witness to his Mercy toward us, and Serve others out of that same Mercy.