Mercy Sunday: “HE IS RISEN!”

He is Risen! This simple phrase encompasses the most important event in the history of the Universe. He is Risen! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who died on the Cross for us has been restored to life! We begin celebrating this incomparable fact at the Easter Vigil, as the Fire is kindled, we are reminded that the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it. Good Friday we were witnesses to how badly the darkness tried to overcome the Light. At the Vigil we celebrated the ultimate triumph of the Light.  Darkness must fail before the Light, then, now, and always!

This Sunday we celebrate a key dimension of that triumph: mercy.  The very heart of the relationship between us as individuals and us collectively with the Triune God is mercy, because everything that He does for us is purely undeserved, unmerited, unearned. It is pure gift based simply on His love for us. The love began with the Father, Who loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son. It is incarnate in the Son, Who demonstrated that there is no greater life than to lay down your life for your friends. It is empowered by the Holy Spirit, Whose ‘proper name’ name is love, being the very expression of the love between the Father and the Son.  He is the One Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and gives life to our mortal bodies as well, out of love, out of mercy.

The focal point is always the Lord Jesus, Who leads us to His Father and fills us with His Spirit.  He is, as Pope Francis has so wonderfully noted: the face of the Father’s mercy. One cannot go through the Triduum and conclude that God is somehow disinterested in our lives; the whole of Holy Week is His sovereign proclamation that He delights to be engaged in our lives, that everything that He does ultimately has the goal of deepening our relationship with Him, both here and forever in the glories of Heaven. He stands at the door and knocks, Risen from the dead, awaiting our response.  The great cosmic majesty of the Triune God, Whom the universe cannot contain, stands at the door and waits for us. The eighth day from the Resurrection, the Church again demonstrates why we can be sure of the most positive, loving response when we open that door: mercy! One of St. John Paul the Great’s very special gifts to the People of God: Mercy Sunday. In a certain way, it is a grand culmination to the relationship the Lord Jesus has been inviting us to, by calling us friends, by inviting us to call His Father Abba, by sending us the Paraclete, the Consoler, Who stands beside us always.

What is our response? In the great mystery of our free will, we can choose to ignore or even walk away from this gift. We can also decide that we have had enough, we are fine where we are. But mercy pleads with us to make a different response. Even as the loving heart of the Trinity was so perfectly revealed in the heart of the Prodigal’s father—who never stopped calling his son home, and who ran to greet him with great love when at last he came to his senses and came home, so too the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ever inviting us deeper, to share Their lives more completely. The grace that rests on this weekend in particular is a grace to respond to the Divine Mercy, to proclaim with all our hearts:  “Jesus, I trust in You!” and to make that concrete by choosing to do those simply things that involve us more deeply in His life—worship, prayer, Scripture, sharing our lives with those who also know Him, etc.  He is the font of mercy, He calls us to share His life, He loves us beyond reason and His mercy is here for all!  Now is the time to respond, as the great St. John Paul the Great proclaimed: Open wide the doors of your heart to Christ! He is Risen! Alleluia! — Fr Ed