Divine Mercy! The Heart of Easter.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

We have just completed some extraordinary worship here at St. John’s. I’m referring specifically to Holy Week and especially the Easter Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day.

Now “The Great Fifty Days” has arrived. I’m referring to the season of Easter and liturgically these next eight weeks are treated as one great day.  For eight weeks we will stand in the glow of the glorification of Christ as we allow The grace of the resurrection to transfigure us slowly from the inside out!

The Great Fifty Days are important because they teach us about divine mercy!

Listen to the words of St. Paul.

“We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of our body and mind, and so we were by nature children of disobedience, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through sin, made us alive with Christ, and raised us up… to sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:3-6)

Over the next eight weeks we will explore the depth and wealth of God’s mercy and how grace and virtuous striving are the means to achieve a faithful Christian life.

Is it any wonder that on this first Sunday after Easter Day has come to be known as “Divine Mercy Sunday!”

Is this new to the Christian calendar. No. The theme of mercy belongs to the whole biblical story. The word in Hebrew (hesed) and the Greek (eleos) translated “mercy” together occur nearly 300 times through-out the Bible.  It most always refers to God’s love, to His goodness, kindness, to His faithfulness and favor. One example is with Psalm 89 when God is speaking of His commitment to the human race, “My steadfast mercy I will keep for ever, and My covenant stands firm.” (Ps 89:28).

When mercy refers to a person it often times is found in the language of prayer, such as, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Ps 23:6)  Psalm 136, is called the “mercy psalm” and we are told 26 times in the form of a litany that our heavenly Father’s “mercy” endures forever.

One of my favorite examples is found in the Old Testament book of Lamentations. This is a collection of five poems lamenting the destruction and ruin of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The sacred Temple has been destroyed and its worship has ceased. A great famine now ravaged the people and the spirits of the faithful are broken as they are carried off into exile.  It could not have been worse for the ancient people of God.  Yet the sacred writer concludes, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; O’ great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him. (Lam 3:22-24)

No, mercy is the theme of the Bible. Mercy is that golden thread that is woven through-out the Bible holding together the story of salvation history. For a person who knows the love and mercy of God, life is never so dark that the glimmer of God’s light can’t be seen.  Everyday we are blessed with renewed mercy and this is a gift from the Holy Spirit.

This renewed mercy is encouragement from God. It should be the source of our motivation to do good, to act kind, and to be firm in faith. Jesus makes this part of His disciples life, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt 5:7)

Blessed are those whose heart is lived open before God, he or she shall become an instrument of God’s peace and mercy. Jesus has showed that love is present in the world in which we live. Our mercy can ignite that love. When this happens opportunities like repentance, suffering, injustice, and poverty of body and spirit can be transformed into moments of redemption by God’s mercy. Mercy and love make present God who is Father of love and mercy.

Today we see Thomas putting his hand inside the wounds of Jesus. Jesus uses His sacred wounds as evidence of His love and mercy. That’s why they didn’t disappear after His resurrection and glorification. But in fact remain quite visible as a source of blessing the world. These five wounds healed Thomas’ struggle and gave him the faith to believe. These five wounds released water and blood for the cleansing of souls and the birth of new life. That new life we live in each day.

The Church was born from the side of Christ. From these five wounds we find the living source for the water of baptism and the blood of the holy Eucharist. The wounds actually are reaching out right now to any person who wants to draw near to God in Christ.

Souls are justified by the water and the blood. Souls are born to new life by the water and nourished by the blood. From the five wounds Thomas found mercy and a unity of heart and mind with Jesus.

The Great Fifty Days is the season of mercy. We are being called by the Holy Spirit to first receive God’s gift of mercy for our own soul’s health; and then to become an instrument of mercy for others.

Let this great season unfold and let us live the faith that conquers the world, the faith that makes us children of mercy.

Remember, each day mercy is renewed to give you always the best day of your life. May God’s peace be with you.

Amen

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Worship Schedule

Sunday Morning
8:00 am  Holy Eucharist, 1928 BCP
11:15 am Holy Eucharist, 2019 & 1928 BCP. This service is live-streamed every Sunday.

Saturday Afternoon Vigil Mass
6:00 pm.  Holy Eucharist

Wednesday Morning Mass
7:30 am.  Holy Eucharist

During the pandemic our worship hours may very.

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