Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate together the Second Sunday of Easter, also known in the recent years as the Divine Mercy Sunday, based on the popular devotion to the Divine Mercy by the Polish nun and visionary St. Faustina Kowalska. Today therefore, we remember and glorify the great mercy of God, His most merciful heart, through which He has shown His desire to forgive us sinners from our sins.
We mankind have sinned from the time when we first entered into this world, from the time of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, whom God created and placed in the beautiful garden of Eden, intended to live in bliss and joy for eternity. And yet, we have disobeyed the Lord and did what was abhorrent in His sight, and thus, we had to endure the fate of suffering and pain in this world, and also death had come to rule over us. All of us would have perished in the end. But God did not intend this to happen to us, as He wanted to show us all His mercy.
And how does God show His mercy to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is none other than by the generous giving of His only Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate symbol of God’s love and mercy. Remember that in the famous verse from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus said to Nicodemus, that “God so loved the world, that He sent into the world His only Son, that through Him, all will not perish but find eternal life and redemption.”
Jesus had come into this world bearing His truth and His love. The love and mercy of God had been made manifest through Christ and all that He had done. He had shown mercy on sinners and all those who had once been sundered from God’s love, calling them to repentance and forgiveness. He had turned sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes, criminals and delinquents into the path of the Lord’s salvation. He showed them that there is hope beyond the darkness of their sins.
For He has done the ultimate act of love, by His willing and loving sacrifice on the cross. During the Holy Week, which had just passed on not long ago, we remembered the memory of the Lord’s Passion and suffering, how He endured the last week of His earthly life in Jerusalem, and eventually giving Himself up for the sake of the salvation of all mankind, God’s people, by laying down His life on the cross, for our sake, and for the absolution of our sins.
But if Christ had remained dead, then there would have been no proof of God’s mercy. For then He would just be like any other men who have died because of their sins. It was His glorious resurrection from the dead which made God’s mercy available for all of us, as He proved that death does not have the final say to us, and by His resurrection from the dead, He showed us all that there is hope in life through Him.
Yet we often acted as St. Thomas the Apostle had done. We knew how St. Thomas often had doubts in his heart about the Lord, and he also doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. He did not want to believe before he was able to prove it himself, by seeing for himself that the Lord is risen, and physically present in his presence, that he was able to tangibly sense and recognise His presence, by putting his fingers into the wounds on the hands, feet and the side of the Lord’s Body.
We often try to find excuses and justification for our way of life, by acting in the same manner as St. Thomas had done. We are too easily swayed by our senses, by what we see, what we hear and what we feel around us. And that is how we ended up falling into sin. We sin because we are not careful enough with how we live our lives, as we are tempted by the temptations of this world, be it the temptation of desire, of pride, of recognition, of wealth, possessions, fame and many others.
We are easily tempted, and we are prone to fall into sin again and again. Yet, that is what our crosses in life are. We must persevere and remain true and faithful to God to the very end. Remember how Christ bore His heavy cross for our sake, and despite falling three times, He always stood up again. This is a reminder for us that, even when we fall into sin, we must not let despair to take over us, but we must keep instead the strong hope for our salvation, by keeping our focus on the Lord, and having the strong conviction not to commit sin again in our respective lives.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, we will surely encounter moments of weakness and doubt as St. Thomas had encountered, but we cannot give up, for what is at stake is none other than the fate of our souls. Do we want to give up to sin, and therefore endure forever the eternal damnation that is the just reward for all those who have not turned away from sin and perished? Or do we rather repent and turn away from those sins, as best as we can, and therefore enter into God’s merciful love and grace?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where it is important for each one of us Christians to show God’s mercy to one another, to promote His everlasting mercy for each one of us. But we must be careful lest we end up promoting false mercy, which God does not show to us sinners. God is indeed merciful and forgiving, and He is willing to wipe away our sins, but all of these depend on whether we ourselves want to be forgiven.
Yes, this is the reality, which all of us must carefully keep in mind. We must not and cannot offer false mercy, by allowing sinners to continue to live in sin and say to them that God understands their sinful actions, as if He condoned such actions and sins. We have to keep in mind that God despises sins and wickedness, just as much as He is loving and kind towards us. He loves each and every one of us, and desires us to be forgiven, but He does not condone our sins.
God loves sinners, but not sin. This is the reality about God’s mercy. We as Christians have received the promise of God’s salvation, but we must remain vigilant and ready, lest we fall again into sin. It is said in the Gospels, that if the righteous falls into sin, then he or she shall perish, because of the sin committed. And similarly, if a sinner turns away from sin and do what is righteous and just in the eyes of God, the sinner will be saved because of the righteousness he or she had committed.
That means, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to show real mercy in our actions and interactions with others, especially with those who have lapsed away from God’s grace. We must not judge them in a way that we are ourselves also sinners, and if we judge them in this manner, then we too will be liable to be judged in the same way.
Rather, what we all need to do is to welcome them, and help them, to turn away from their sinful ways, just as we ourselves must keep ourselves from doing what is sinful in the sight of God and men alike. We must follow what the Lord said to the woman condemned for adultery, that is to ‘sin no more’. Jesus did not condemn the woman, but what we often forget is that, He also asked her to abandon her sinful ways, and turn herself completely to the way of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember God’s most Divine Mercy on this Sunday, let us all therefore, first of all, remember how we are sinners and how we have sinned in various ways in our life, be it venial or small sin, or serious sin. And thus, let us all make the commitment to reject all of our sinful past way of life, and seek to be changed by the grace of God, opening ourselves to receive God’s forgiveness. Let us help one another to attain this forgiveness, by encouraging one another to lead a righteous life in accordance to God’s will.
May the Lord, Whose most Divine Mercy wants us to be forgiven and to be reconciled to Him, grant us the strength to persevere through the temptations and challenges in this life, so that we may always be able to resist the temptation and pressure to sin, that by turning our back to sin and sinning no more, we may be worthy to enter into the heavenly inheritance which the Lord has promised to all those who are faithful to Him. O Most Divine Mercy, have mercy on us all sinners. Amen.