Preached at Holy Sepulcher Parish on April 12, 2015 at 3:00PM Divine Mercy Service with Adoration
Kids today face some difficult challenges from bullying, but back in the day I, and probably many of you as well, experienced some difficult bullying in school. I am speaking of wedgies, noogies, and the dreaded Indian burn. If you don’t know what they are I will just say that they are very painful.
It may seem strange to mention wedgies or noogies in a homily about divine mercy, but I do have a point in this. If someone did one of these horrible things to you, they would give you a “mercy” word or phrase that you could say to end the pain you were receiving. You would have to cry “uncle” or say “Johnny [or whoever the bully’s name was] is the best” or you might even have to admit that you liked girls, but whatever you said ended your torture and you receive mercy.
The dictionary defines mercy as compassion shown to those in your power or an act performed out of pity for someone. How different mercy is from divine mercy.
Today we come together to celebrate divine mercy, the love of God that flows out from the heart of Christ to each one of us.
Today’s gospel reading reflects perfectly what divine mercy is all about. The story is called the Prodigal Son, but it is more appropriately called the Forgiving Father, because the father’s forgiveness and mercy toward his son is what is important. The son asks for his inheritance, which he could only receive when his father was dead, which means his father is now dead to him.
Yet the father sees his son when he is a long way off because he is looking for him no matter how long he had been gone. The father runs to his son, something that people did not do back in those days, especially the master of the house. Everyone went to him. The father embraces the son, kisses him, and showers him with gifts on his return. Most importantly, he never mentions what the son did. He completely acts like it never happened.
This is our Heavenly Father and the divine mercy that flows from the heart of his son. No matter what we have done or how dead God has become to us, he awaits our return to him. He’s ready to run out to us and greet us when we return to him. He is always ready to shower us with his divine mercy.
How different divine mercy is from our concept of mercy. God is not giving his mercy to show compassion to those under his power or to show pity on us. Divine mercy is completely about love. As Psalm 136 says at the end of each of its verses, “his mercy endures forever.”
Rejoice and be glad!