Message: A disciple receives God's mercy and extends it to others.
This weekend we have presentations from our World Youth Day delegates. It's an appropriate weekend because we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. When we go to Poland we will visit Lagiewniki, "The capital of the Divine Mercy devotion."*
Lagiewniki receives around 2 million pilgrims a year. They come to see the original Divine Mercy painting and to visit the tomb of St. Faustina Kowalska who received the Divine Mercy revelations. Many people experience amazing answers when they pray at her tomb.
One of the most famous is Maureen Digan from Massachusetts. For years she had suffered from lymphedema undergoing 10 operations - including a leg amputation.** While praying at St. Faustina's tomb Maureen heard a voice, "ask for my help and I will help you." She asked and her constant pain stopped. Five Boston physicians examined her and determined that her healing had no natural explanation.
Ask and I will help you. Last week I mentioned that young people sometimes tell me they are losing their faith. Knowing a few of the arguments for God's existence can help, but more effective is simply asking God for a sign. There's a book titled "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To." The first prayer is "God, show me that you exist."***
In today's Gospel Thomas asks for evidence. Jesus loves an honest skeptic. There are skeptics who scoff. No proof would satisfy them. I once asked an atheist if the world dissolved before her, would she believe? She said, no, she would assume she was hallucinating. No proof would do.**** But Thomas said he would believe if he could place his hand in the wound in Jesus' side. Thomas was a skeptic, but an honest one. Jesus did give him the proof he desired.
It's interesting the Gospel does not describe Thomas inserting his hand. The proof comes with the words, "Peace be with you." Peace signifies Divine Mercy. As Jesus tells them, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them." The Divine Mercy.
I remember once telling a young man about the Divine Mercy devotion. When I finished I asked if he had any questions. "Yes," he said, "what does mercy mean?" To answer I had to go back to the Latin word, "misericordia." It has two parts: "cordia" which means "heart" and "miseri" which means "suffering." Mercy is a "heart for those who suffer."
It's ironic that St. Faustina received Divine Mercy revelations at Lagiewniki - about an hour distant from Auschwitz: arguably the most merciless place in human history. The revelation came at a time and place where mercy was vanishing. And they show what we human beings most need: God's mercy, his forgiveness - and mercy toward each other, a heart for those who suffer.
During this Easter season we are talking about becoming disciples and disciple makers. A disciple receives God's mercy and extends it to others. Like the disciples in the first reading they don't cling to their own things, but focus on the needs of others.
So in summary: Ask and I will help you. It's OK to ask God for a sign of his reality. Thomas shows that God loves an honest skeptic. And the greatest proof is: Peace, Forgiveness, the Divine Mercy. Amen.
*Łagiewniki. I am just starting with Polish, but here is how it sound to me: Wah-ghee-ev-nee-kee
**Lymphedema (lymphoedema in English), also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system, which normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct and then the bloodstream.
***God, Show Me That You Exist When we take the initiative by asking him a question, instead of treating him as a question, we have actually entered into a dialogue already — whether we know it or not. And dialogue — back-and-forth conversation — is the heart and foundation of any relationship
****Jesus will give them no sign - except the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39). (For further reading on Divine Mercy I recommend: The Second Greatest Story Ever Told by Fr. Michael Gaitley)
From Archives (Divine Mercy Sunday Homilies):
Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
2015 Peru Mission Trip