Sisters and Brothers!
As we gather in this sacred place, by God’s grace we are given access to what happened in the Cenacle, on the Easter Sunday and the following Sunday two thousand years ago. We find there a group of frightened, disappointed and confused women and men. For them Jesus came and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Jesus who rose from the dead brought them peace because first he brought them reconciliation from God, God’s mercy.
After gifting them with peace anchored in Divine Mercy he said: ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ Where did he send them? To the people who needed forgiveness too. He commissioned them saying: ‘For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ The mission which the disciples gathered in the Cenacle received, the mission which the disciples of all times, including us here gathered, have received, is giving to others the mercy we have received from the Lord.
A week later, when St Thomas joined the disciples, we discover that the disciples did the mission of forgiveness because they didn’t kick Thomas out for doubting their testimony. They embraced with mercy their struggling brother. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus breathed into their souls, gave them the grace to forgive as they were forgiven.
The same Holy Spirit didn’t depart after that First Divine Mercy Sunday. The Acts of the Apostles for this our Divine Mercy Sunday show us the believers in Jerusalem who were ‘united, heart and soul.’ For a group of people to be united like that it means that forgiveness was practiced there a lot. Those believers were the people of whom Jesus spoke to Thomas: ‘Happy are those who have not seen yet believed.’ Those believers from the First Reading didn’t see Jesus but they believed him. They lived by that belief. They forgave each other.
We haven’t seen Jesus either but we are here because we believe. We believe that when we gather in his name he is in our midst. He is here as our Saviour. He breathes upon us the Holy Spirit so that we could have peace in us and be able to forgive those who trespass against us. In a few moments the priest will invoke the Holy Spirit to descend and change the bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood. It does make us feel so close to the Lord, doesn’t it? However if there is still in us resentment and anger towards some people, even if we receive his Body and Blood, we are as far from Jesus as hell is from heaven.
When I see photos of John Paul II visiting his assassin I see a modern depiction of what happen on the First Divine Mercy Sunday two thousand years ago. I see a believer embracing someone who wronged him. However my faith allows me to see more. I also see the Risen Lord standing there, the Lord who breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples so that they could forgive. The same Risen Lord I can see there because without the Risen Lord breathing the Holy Spirit people are vengeful as we can see it in our society so often.
I pray that the Holy Spirit, who will be soon invoked over the gifts of bread and wine, will come to each one of us to be united, heart and soul, because we all have been forgiven and we all are called to forgive. So in the name of our Blessed Lord I say to you:
‘Peace be with you… As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven… Do this in memory of me.’