This morning, I had the great blessing of being a visitor for Divine Mercy Mass at St. Anastasia Catholic Church in Los Angeles. The homilist, Monsignor Royale Vadakin, preached a compelling homily on today’s gospel from John 20.
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Msgr. Vadakin helped me to view a passage I’ve prayed over countless times with a fresh (and greatly needed) perspective. While I’ve always related to “Doubting Thomas” in the next portion of this particular gospel passage–the guy who couldn’t believe until he saw and felt–today Msgr. Vadakin preached about true mercy and forgiveness in a way that put me into Christ’s shoes in John’s gospel. While I can’t unfortunately quote him verbatim, Monsignor reminded us that Jesus had every reason to be justified in qualifying his remarks to his disciples with phrases such as “Where were you on Calvary?” or “Peter, why did you betray me?”
But he didn’t.
He entered, stood amidst them and said, “Peace be with you.” Christ didn’t give those who had abandoned him the cold shoulder or treat them with a passive aggressive attitude. He didn’t say, “I forgive you, but I’m still mad at you…”
He said, “Peace be with you.”
Generous and Joyful Servants of Mercy
In today’s homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis paints a vivid portrait of true mercy:
In God’s mercy, all of our infirmities find healing. His mercy, in fact, does not keep a distance: it seeks to encounter all forms of poverty and to free this world of so many types of slavery. Mercy desires to reach the wounds of all, to heal them. Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters. Curing these wounds, we profess Jesus, we make him present and alive; we allow others, who touch his mercy with their own hands, to recognize him as “Lord and God” (Jn 20:28), as did the Apostle Thomas. This is the mission that he entrusts to us. So many people ask to be listened to and to be understood. The Gospel of mercy, to be proclaimed and written in our daily lives, seeks people with patient and open hearts, “good Samaritans” who understand compassion and silence before the mystery of each brother and sister. The Gospel of mercy requires generous and joyful servants, people who love freely without expecting anything in return. (Read homily in full here)
Did you catch that last sentence (the blogger writes, asking herself)?
The Gospel of mercy requires generous and joyful servants, people who love freely without expecting anything in return.
All too often, when I feel that I have been been wronged–especially by a loved one–I feast in an unhealthy fashion on the self-righteousness that assures me that I am owed my sense of hurt and anger. My form of “lashing out” is the silent treatment, the inward turn, the “they should know I’m mad” frown and downcast eyes. I’m certain that with some of those around me, this unChristian behavior goes entirely unnoticed and the one who is most harmed is me, my mental health and most wretchedly my soul that desires to be in right relationship with my Creator.
Today, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I am praying for the grace to cast off a few, “I forgive you, but…” sentiments that have been floating around in my heart lately. I deeply desire to be a generous and joyful servant.
I know the value of that part of my “yes” intellectually. It’s time to get busy dropping the limits and being truly immersed in all that mercy is meant to be.
A question for you: Do you have a hard time truly being merciful when you feel emotionally wronged by a loved one? What has aided you in expressing generous and joyful mercy?