Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, 3rd April 2016

God, we know, is almighty, omnipotent, all-powerful.  We have plenty of evidence for this truth in his creation, things great – like the universe, which new telescopes and technical devices reveal to be almost infinitely large, we have not reached its limits, there’s more to come – and things small, unimaginably small, so that we can only know of them through instruments like the Large Hadron Collider, underground beneath the Alps.  All these things he not merely made, but governs and conserves – almighty indeed.

But these are only physical instances of omnipotence.  More impressive, surely, is God’s ability to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, his Divine will, which somehow always prevails, while at the same time leaving our freedom of will unimpaired.  We see it in his making it possible for the Evangelists to be truly authors, writing with complete freedom, while writing only what God inspired, “with the ease proper to Divine omnipotence”.  Square circles are for dummies.

But there is a still greater display of God’s omnipotence, which the liturgy tells us is most clearly seen in God’s sparing us, showing us his mercy.  That is when he demonstrates, and we experience, his almighty power, there is our clearest evidence of his omnipotence, that he is rich in mercy, as St. Paul tells us in Ephesians, a truth which St. John Paul II took as the title of one of his encyclicals, “Dives in Misericordia”.

The Book of Wisdom says, “You spare all, because they are yours, the souls you love.”  He did not spare his own Son, but he does spare us.  Mercy is God’s distinguishing characteristic: one of the Collects for the Dead reminds us that it is proper to God ALWAYS to have mercy and to spare.  The Liturgy does not tire of reminding us of this, there are 217 mentions of God’s mercy in the Missal alone.

Our Lord asks us to TRUST in his mercy and patience, qualities which he gets from his Father – I always do what the Father does.  God’s mercy is real Good News for us, because we all need mercy, we are all sinners, we need to trust God.  I remember a Mass of final profession I attended, where a bishop preached from the words of a hymn, Trust and Obey, as a guide to life, as what God asks of us.  And then we had 4 bishops, dozens of priests and religious and the entire congregation - mitres, chasubles, habits, bright festal clothes - dancing and singing the hymn – and no wonder, the message of mercy is wonderful, and gives us joy.

It’s too good to be true, some say, but no, God’s plan for us has always been, it goes back to the very beginning, he predestined us for adoption, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be the praise of his glory.

“For his great love, his mercy, is without end, is limitless”, says the psalm (used today as a Responsorial); verse after verse repeats the refrain, because we, like the Apostles, are so slow to believe, we need to have the truth dinned into us.  “Peace be with you”, Jesus wished his Apostles, and that is his gift to us, too:  we can rely on his mercy, there is nothing to worry about, we can be at peace, we can make our own the prayer Jesus gave to St. Faustina, “Jesus, I trust in you.”  To whom else could we go? He has the message of eternal life.  

There in the squint over there is a copy (painted by Fr. Stephen at Prinknash) of the image he asked St. Faustina to have painted and promulgated, together with the devotion and the prayer, with red rays signifying his Blood and the white ones signifying the water of baptism, great mysteries, - and that is why our Collect today asks an increase of grace, so that we may understand with what washing we are cleansed, with what blood we are redeemed, with what Spirit reborn.

St. Benedict tells us never to despair of the mercy of God, and St. Aelred, who followed St. Benedict’s Rule, said he would spend eternity singing the psalm, “I will sing of his mercies forever”, and so will we, with the wisdom and gratitude of hindsight.  But now let us show mercy to each other, forgive each other our debts, as the Master forgave the servant in the Parable, confident in the Father of Mercies, praying, with the Mother of Mercy, “Jesus, I trust in you.”