Divine Mercy Sunday


Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

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ROME REPORTS (1:43): DECEMBER 27, 2014 – Mehmet Ali Agca who shot and wounded John Paul II returned to the Vatican to lay flowers on his tomb. Having served 19 years in prison, he made the gesture on the 31st anniversary of the Pope’s visit to him in prison, to forgive him for the attempt on his life.

Divine Mercy

FR. TONY’S HOMILIES – The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.”

Homily Anecdote
Choose  an anecdote which is somehow related to the rest of your homily. Adapt as time allows, and use your own words. A video is provided to help you make further connections to the story/anecdote by highlighting important details, and understanding the characters and settings. 

Divine Mercy in Action

A TIME magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a blue turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation.

The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet had torn into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him.

At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.”

This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.


St Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy

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CURRENTS NEWS (1:39) – Filmmaker David diSilva spent eight years tracing and documenting the story of original image of Divine Mercy. After Christ asked St. Faustina Kowalski to paint an image to convey his mercy to the world, this painting was nearly lost behind the iron curtain of the Soviet Union. Now the entire story is told for the first time in a documentary titled “The Original Image of Divine Mercy.” Currents Correspondent Katie Breidenbach caught up with Mr. diSilva before the film’s exclusive screening at the Sheen Center Arts Complex in Greenwich Village.

St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April 2000, at 10:00 AM, on the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast requested by Jesus in His communications with St. Faustina), His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. [John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day – April 27 in 2014 – by Pope Francis.]

At the canonization of St. Faustina,  Saint John Paul II said,

  • “Believing in the love of God means believing in His mercy.”
  • “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, Who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy.”

Saint Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, Who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks:

  1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s incomprehensible Mercy;
  2. to tell the world about God’s generous Mercy;
  3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s Mercy.

The Lord of Divine Mercy, a painting of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with His left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, “Jesus, I trust in You!” (JezuufamTobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the Blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the Baptismal water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God.

Mercy During Tragedy

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CBS EVENING NEWS (3:03) – In October 2006, Terri Roberts’ son walked into an Amish school in Pennsylvania and shot 10 young girls before killing himself. Roberts believed she would have to move away, but the Amish told her they wanted her to stay. Roberts now shares their message of forgiveness with those who’ve experienced trauma. Jeff Glor reports.

The news is filled with illustrations of mercy—or the need for mercy—in our world. One of the most moving stories came to us on October 6, 2006, when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He chased out the little boys and lined up the 10 little girls in front of the blackboard. He shot all of them and then killed himself. Five of the girls died.

After the medics and police left, the families of the fallen came and carried their slain children home. They removed their bloody clothes and washed the bodies. They sat for a time and mourned their beloved children.

After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children. They told his widow they forgave her husband for what he had done, and they consoled her for the loss of her spouse. They buried their anger before they buried their children.

Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness of themselves depends on their extending forgiveness to other people. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.

Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem: Catholic Update – March 2008

Flight of Faith: My Miracle on the Hudson by Fred Berretta

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A banker on a business trip in New York City, Fred Berretta had just checked into his hotel room. He had about 20 minutes downtime before he had to meet his colleagues. For some reason he decided to clean out his briefcase, something he hadn’t done in a long time. As he emptied it out, he came across a booklet he had stuffed into a pocket years ago on praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. He recalls having prayed it a few times years ago. Only two weeks prior, Fred had made a New Year’s resolution to try to get into better spiritual shape. Here in this hotel room was an opportunity to fulfill it. So, he followed along in the booklet and prayed the chaplet, a prayer our Lord gave to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, during a series of revelations that has sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement.

He would be among the 155 people to board a jet airliner at LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, N.C., his hometown. It was January 15, 2009. Ninety seconds after takeoff, the jet would apparently hit a flock of geese, the engines would explode, and the plane would lose power at 3,200 feet. The aircraft would be out of reach from any airfield. It would lose thrust and altitude. Everything would become eerily quiet. Fred would cinch his seatbelt. His left hand would clutch the armrest, his heart would race, his face would be flushed. “Prepare for impact,” the pilot would say over the PA system. As the ground surged into view, Fred would look at his watch. It would be 3:30, the Hour of Great Mercy! “I prayed with every fiber of emotion and sincerity I could muster, ‘God, please be merciful to us,’” Fred would recall two weeks later. You’ve probably heard about the crash landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on Jan. 15. No one was seriously injured. Then, there were the news images of a US Airways Airbus floating gently down the frigid Hudson, like some sort of breaching, people-friendly, aquatic creature. The passengers stood on its wings, calmly awaiting rescue.


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Fr. Tony's Homily

Summary of the Readings

First Reading

The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, explains how the Risen Lord continued to show his Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of his apostles in the early Church. The apostles’ Faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love in “signs and wonders.”


Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the first reading. 

Luke, the author of Acts, describes the life-style and activities of our earliest predecessors in the Christian Faith, holding up for us, as it were, a model of what the Church is called to become.

The passage explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of the Apostles in the early Church. The apostles’ Faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love through the “signs and wonders” that Jesus had promised would accompany their work. Following the model of service set forth by Jesus, they healed the sick by wielding God’s power over disease and unclean spirits.

People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits – and all of them were cured.” 

These cures illustrate how the power of the Resurrection can work miracles, even through ordinary people. We know that this power of the Resurrection still operates today because we have seen how a friendly smile, a gentle touch, or a willingness to forgive can heal a broken spirit, and how the challenging words of a parent, a teacher, or a friend can quicken the mind and heart.

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Responsorial Psalm

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), shows the Divine Mercy that “endures forever,” in action: “I was hard-pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped me…” and concludes, “This is the Day the Lord has made! Let us be glad and rejoice in it!” 

Second Reading

The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation (given by Jesus to the Apostle John in exile on Patmos), was intended to comfort and bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians for all time. Today’s selection encourages us to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope.


Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the second reading. 

In this book, John describes an extraordinary experience he had while living in banishment in the penal colony on the island of Patmos. He wrote this book at Jesus’ command, to comfort and bolster the Faith of the persecuted Christians by reassuring them of the presence of the merciful Lord in their lives. Here we read about the vision of the Risen Christ in glory and read the messages Jesus gave John for each of the major Christian communities at that time.

The usefulness of the Book of Revelation to us Christians is not so much in its symbolic language as in the comfort and strength we receive from solidarity with other Christians in distress. We, who are privileged to anticipate the victory of Christ through the Sacraments and especially in the Eucharist, are also encouraged to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope.

He touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, the One Who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.’”

The book conveys the message that we are called to live out in our lives in such a way that, through us, others may be able to exclaim, “We have seen the Lord!”

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Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord gave the apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20: 19-23). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.


Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the Gospel reading. 

The first part of today’s Gospel (verses 19-23), describes how Jesus entrusted to his apostles his mission of preaching the “Good News” of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. This portion of the reading teaches us that Jesus uses the Church as the earthly means of continuing His mission. It also teaches us that the Church needs Jesus as its source of power and authority, and that it becomes Christ’s true messenger only when it perfectly loves and obeys Him. The Risen Lord gives the apostles the authority to forgive sins in His Name. He gives the apostles the power of imparting God’s mercy to the sinner, the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy, in both the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the liturgy, the Church has proclaimed the mercy of God for centuries through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel text also reminds us that the clearest way of expressing our belief in the presence of the Risen Jesus among us is through our own forgiveness of others. We can’t form a lasting Christian community without such forgiveness. Unless we forgive others, our celebration of the Eucharist is just an exercise in liturgical rubrics.

The second part of the Gospel (verses 24-29), presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas in his uncompromising honesty demanding a personal vision of, and physical contact with, the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas had not been with the Apostles when Jesus first appeared to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.”

The story of Thomas highlights the importance of signs (as we have seen all along in John), but also their limitations in terms of bringing people to Faith. Interestingly, there is never a mention of Thomas touching Jesus’ wounds as he had said he needed to do; his encounter with the risen Lord was, apparently, sufficient to bring him to Faith. Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus.

Modern Christians, who are no longer able to “see” Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. That is why Paul reminds us, “Faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17).

“This Gospel shows us that Faith comes in different ways to different people. The beloved disciple believes upon seeing the empty tomb (v. 8). Mary [Magdalen] believes when the Lord calls her name (v. 16). the disciples must see the risen Lord (v. 20). Thomas says that he must touch the wounds (v. 25)—although that need evaporates once he sees the risen Christ (v. 28). People find various routes to faith.” (www.lectionary.org).

Thomas uses the mind God has given him and says that he must have some proof before he can believe this incredible claim. Christian Faith is not just a mindless assent to certain beliefs without thinking—it has a solid basis in rationality, and this effort to explain and understand such claims is the basis of theological exploration, and of Christian philosophy (Dr. Murray).

The unique profession of Faith: Thomas, the “doubting” apostle, makes the great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). Thomas confesses Jesus in the very words (“My Lord and my God”) used by the Psalmist for Yahweh.

According to Raymond Brown, Thomas’ profession of Faith is the ultimate Christological proclamation of the fourth gospel. “My Lord (Kyrios) and my God (Theos)” revealed the late first century Church’s realization that Jesus was equal to, and One with, the Eternal Creator of the universe and of all humankind. Here, the most outrageous doubter of the Resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of belief in the Lord Who rose from the dead. This declaration by the “doubting” Thomas in today’s Gospel is very significant for two reasons.

  1. It is the foundation of our Christian Faith. Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Jesus as proved by His miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. Thomas’ profession of Faith is the strongest evidence we have of the Resurrection of Jesus.
  2. Thomas’ Faith culminated in his self-surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52, his fearless preaching, and the powerful testimony given by his martyrdom in A.D. 72. When the Portuguese landed in India in the early 1600s, they found a group of Christians there—the Mar Thoma Church, established through Thomas’ preaching a millennium and a half before.

Bishop Robert E. Barron on today’s gospel: “Our magnificent Gospel today declares that there is no greater manifestation of the Divine mercy than the forgiveness of sins. The risen Lord appears to his disciples and greet them with “Shalom,” peace. And then the extraordinary commission:

“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Jesus’ mercy is communicated to his disciples, who in turn are sent to communicate it to the world. This is the foundation for the Sacrament of Penance, which has existed in the Church from that moment to the present day as the privileged vehicle of the Divine mercy.”]

Today’s Gospel also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading Presence of the Risen Lord of Mercy. To believe without having seen is every later Christian’s experience. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and hesitation by surrendering our lives to the Risen Lord of Mercy. Let us ask God our Father to open our hearts so that we may receive His Mercy in the form of the Holy Spirit.

[The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:

  • A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
  • B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
  • C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that our reception of the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. From http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/]
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Fr. Tony's Homily

Life Message

Accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy

One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive Divine Mercy. The Gospel command, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36), demands that we show mercy to our fellow human beings always and everywhere. We radiate God’s mercy to others by our actions, our words, and our prayers. It is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.


Additional life messages from Fr. Tony

Ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and leads us to serve those we encounter with love

Living Faith enables us to see the Risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service (“Faith without good works is dead” Jas 2:17). It was this Faith in the Lord and obedience to His missionary command that prompted St. Thomas to travel to India to preach the Gospel among the Hindus, to establish seven Christian communities (known later as “St. Thomas Christians”), and eventually to suffer martyrdom. The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic Faith of St. Thomas the Apostle. a) We must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) We must strengthen our Faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through our personal and community prayer. c) We must share in the Divine life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and receiving the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”

The challenge for a transparent Christian life — “Unless I see … I will not believe.” (Jn 20:25)

This “seeing” is what others demand of us. They ask that we reflect Jesus, the Risen Lord, in our lives by our selfless love, unconditional forgiveness, and humble service. The integrity of our lives bears a fundamental witness to others who want to see the Risen Lord alive and active, working in us. Christ’s mercy shines forth from us whenever we reach out to the poor, the needy and the marginalized, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) did. His mercy shines forth as we remain open to those who struggle in Faith, as did the Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel. We should be able to appreciate the presence of Jesus, crucified and raised, in our own suffering and in our suffering brothers and sisters, thus recognizing the glorified wounds of the Risen Lord in the suffering of others.

Like St. Thomas, use our skepticism to help us grow in Faith

It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and, thus, to grow in our Faith. This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments. However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing but is a gift from God. Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).

Share our Faith as St. Thomas did

We are not to keep the gift of Faith locked in our hearts, but to share it with our children, our families and our neighbors, always remembering the words of Pope St. John XXIII: “Every believer in this world must become a spark of Christ’s light.”

Allow Jesus to transform all our doubts into true belief

We must invite him into our lives and ask him to “increase our faith.” The desire itself is the first step to being open to receive the gift of faith. The next step is to make that “leap” of trust, giving up our habit of trying to control the way things happen and simply depending on Jesus alone. Faith is an adventure which unfolds before us for the rest of our life – but now a life in his name!

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End of homily

Fr. Tony's Homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, or congregations.

1) Traffic cop’s mercy: A priest was forced by a police officer to pull over for speeding. As the officer was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7). The police officer handed the priest the ticket, and said, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).

2) Photographer’s mercy: The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man’s studio and screamed at him: “This picture does not do me justice!” The photographer replied, “Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!”

3) Mercy of Sisters of Mercy: There is a joke about the payment of a bill at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital. A man was brought to Mercy Hospital for surgery. The operation went well. The Sister waiting by his bed said to the man, “You’re going to be just fine,” and asked him, “We want to know how you intend to pay for your stay here. Are you covered by insurance?” He whispered, “No, I’m not.” The sister asked, “Can you pay in cash?” He replied, “I’m afraid I can’t, Sister.” She continued, “Do you have any close relatives, then?” The patient replied, “Just my sister in New Mexico, but she’s a spinster nun.” The sister said, “Nuns are not spinsters, Mr. Smith. They are married to Jesus.” The man said with a smile, “Okay, then send the bill to Jesus, my brother-in-law.”

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