Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday (19 April 2020)

Dear friends,
Blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!
We have celebrated Easter in our homes this year. We couldn’t celebrate it with the usual grandeur and formality in the church, but we have celebrated Easter in our domestic churches through creative ways and live-streamed Masses. We will never forget this year’s Easter, when Christ was risen in our own homes. We personalized the Easter celebration, yet we know we were united in spirit and in prayer as a community.
One of the things that caught my attention recently was the closed main gate of the church. The open gate that used to welcome many of you now serves as a barrier to prevent people from entering the church compound. The memory of the people entering the church through the gate for worship, sacraments, meetings and gatherings makes us ponder more deeply on our lives, ministries, and the meaning of being a Catholic and for me, how I am called to respond as a priest of the parish. Deep in our hearts, there is a longing for that gate to be re-opened and we wish COVID-19 had never come.
For many of us, the restriction of the MCO has confined us to the closed doors of our homes, a similar experience of the disciples in today’s gospel, who went behind the closed doors in fear of the dangers posed at them. It was a time of doubt, disillusionment and uncertainty as they locked themselves in a place of perceived security and safety. Isn’t it somewhat like how we are all experiencing at this time?
This Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord enters our homes and our hearts and stands in our midst whilst saying to us what he said to the disciples, “Peace be with you”.
It’s in that same, enclosed and locked room that Jesus showed them his wounds and breathed on them the creative Spirit of God. It was such a profound encounter, which transformed them to be more attuned to God’s will, enabling them to reach their fullest potential. That invasion of mercy made them venture into new possibilities and adventure in new mission fields with renewed enthusiasm and fervour.
As Jesus breathed on the disciples the Spirit of God in that closed room, he also invites us to “receive the Holy Spirit”. By giving us life in the transforming grace of God already at work, he is opening doors for us now to enter into new possibilities and new adventures in the life of Christ.
In the same way behind the closed doors of Covid-19, Jesus comes into our families, churches and community as he stands before us, exposing the wounds of broken relationships, unfaithfulness, betrayal, doubts, anger, hate, unforgiveness, disappointments, self- centredness and uncertainties. These are the experiences that keep us crippled in fear, doubt and that make us incapable of acknowledging God’s love for us behind shut doors.
The closed room is not only a place of pain and darkness but also a place of healing and growth for us to take a closer look at our lives, our relationships, ministries, community and vocation.
The restrictions we experience have given us the possibility to look into ourselves more deeply and into new areas of engagement with each other. Even with the restricted movements, there is a huge window of opportunity for us to evangelize and to share the mercy of God.
The Divine Mercy never abandons…it always restores and heals us.
Closed doors lock us out of the noise that have surrounded us. It gives us the opportunity for the Lord to breathe in us new life, new possibilities, and new ways of being church. Those who doubt and are disillusioned in their faith like Thomas often get lost and miss the opportunity to rediscover new life and hope in the Divine Mercy. Let us be witnesses to these people through Christ in our lives.
By the glorious wounds of Jesus, the Divine Mercy, we are called to shine forth and take this opportunity to return to the basics of our Christian living in our homes and in our society – to love, to show mercy and compassion unto others and to have charity in our lives.

‘Here in the Power of Christ We Stand’.
May we be healed and empowered by the Divine Mercy. God bless each one of you.

Praying for you always
Fr. Joachim Robert & Fr. Michael Raymond OFM. Cap
Priests of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Penang.