Divine Mercy Sunday 2012 - Indulgence

First and foremost today is Divine Mercy Sunday! Praise God!  If you are unaware there is an indulgence on Divine Mercy sunday. Go to the link to check out the details.Today's readings were quite astounding and as always timely. Friday night I was having a conversation with some friends over pizza. Good men, zealous Catholics, eager to evangelize world. Yet, that question, which always comes up, came up. Why don't people respond to the truth when they here it? Why is there so much resistance or rejection? The obvious answer is of course the realization that acknowledging Jesus Christ as the only savior of the world, has some pretty serious practical implications. Like a complete interior change in your life, which is likely to manifest itself in completely different behavior. Going to daily mass for example, sitting in adoration with Jesus regularly, or praying the rosary daily. Not to mention, leaving behind sexual sin, gluttony, greed, selfishness, pride and avarice. Acknowledging Jesus, means acknowledging our smallness. It means acknowledging our weakness. It means trusting in Jesus to fulfill what we are lacking. The modern world finds itself adrift. Consciences are formed by moral relativism and therefore, floating in the sea of skepticism. As for the crazy Catholic kids, who form their consciences to the teaching of the Church, whom is the authoritative voice of Christ in the world. We take solace in the fact the Jesus had a concrete plan for the forgiveness of sins and the manifestation of his mercy. Because mercy is God's greatest attribute.The GospelAfter Jesus death and resurrection, He gives the apostles a specific charge. That charge is to continue, His mission of forgiving sins. Jesus primary mission was to heal and sanctify sinners through His mercy and grace. He did accomplish this task abstractly from far off. Rather, he entered time and had contact with us. Through His human body, he conveyed the mercy and grace of God to those who were willing to humbly submit to His will. Only those who were willing to repent and leave their old life behind we experienced mercy. Jesus did not run all over Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem, yelling out to people "I am the Son of God and you are all forgiven." His mercy wasn't a blanket that he through over the top of sinners. It is His divine life communicated to the soul of the humble, repentant, sinner, to cleanse, aid and strengthen. Today we heard Jesus give this gift to the disciples. Jesus breathes on them, and says "as the Father has sent me, even so I send you (Jn 20:21). Jesus confers on them the Holy Spirit and the power of God to forgive sins. Telling them that "if they forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." It is through the ministry of the Bishops and priests of the Catholic Church that Christ distributes His divine mercy to the world (Council of Trent - Sess. 14, Chap. 1).Divine RevelationMuch like Thomas in today's gospel, the modern world refuses to believe the gospel. For many people they weren't in the upper room, they didn't witness Christ giving this power to a specific group of people, they cannot put their hands in the nail marks, and therefore, they refuse to believe. The fruit of that refusal is anxiety, confusion, woundedness, anger, the darkness of sin, and the refusal to have mercy on others, which leads to a world without mercy. Jesus returns to the upper room eight days later, what would be today, divine mercy Sunday. This time Thomas is present. Jesus says to Thomas "Put your finger here, and see my hands: and put out your hand, and place it in my side: do not be faithless, but believing (Jn 20: 27). " Thomas responds, "My Lord and my God." To which Jesus replies "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."Much of what has just been discussed is the gift of divine revelation. It is the concrete truth which God wanted us to know for our salvation. What are we talking about? We are talking about theology. And theology has practical implications for our lives. Why do some people reject revelation. As I have said many times, it is because they prefer human reason, to divine revelation. In other words, they prefer themselves to God. Even many who believe in God, reduce God and His power to natural theology or reason. St. Thomas Aquinas says that it was necessary that man be taught by a divine revelation, because "the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors." We see this today. There is great division in Christianity, due in large part to a rejection of the fullness of divine revelation and the authority of the Catholic Church. Which is why Jesus says blessed are those who have not seen but believe. Because our entire salvation rests in our understanding and living out of divine revelation in it's fullness. It does not rest on the power of our own intellect. The prideful man rejects faith, as the apostle Thomas did, due to his preference for himself. However, this science, theology is the most certain of all knowledge. St. Thomas says that this science "surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of the divine knowledge, which cannot be misled.." God can neither deceive or be deceived. What he has revealed is more certain than anything Kant, or DeCartes had to say. In fact, the departure of modern thinkers from the first principles of theology have given us the modern world of skepticism. The doubt everything until you put your hand in the nail marks mentality. While Thomas the Apostle manifested it in the upper room. He repented of it the moment he encountered the Lord. The preference of the modern mind for it's own private revelation (human reason), is keeping our culture from experiencing widespread mercy and love. Because it simply doesn't believe in the ministry of the priesthood to forgive sins.God's Greatest AttributeAugustine once said, "a man who undertakes to praise God and yet will not exalt his mercy above all else, had better keep silent (Confessions)." Strong words, yet, isn't that the situation we find ourselves in culturally? Men making alot of ruckus but saying little. Men who don't know who they are and fail to love as they ought, because they have not encountered the merciful love of the Father.  If this is to change, than we have to begin to call sin what it is again. Sin. We have to do so without fear. And we must begin with our own lives. Until we come to a realization of our own dignity and vocation, as the prodigal son did, we cannot comprehend the awful stench of sin in our lives. Pope Benedict XVI says of this awareness, "the loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God's love (Sacramentum Caritatis)." Everything about God's revelation manifests His mercy. Mercy is an extension of His love. The simple fact the he brought us into existence and holds us here, in spite of our ungrateful attitudes and rejection of Him, is a constant manifestation of His mercy. He willingly suffered death on the cross which was a profound manifestation of his mercy. Remember the flood? How about Sodom and Gmorroah?  God became man and suffered on the cross. He entered time and came near us. He knows about suffering and temptation, he has experienced it. But even His suffering and death were a witness to His mercy. He chose to suffer instead of exacting His justice. John Paul II speaks of the closeness we have to Christ in our suffering, "The truth, revealed in Christ, about God the "Father of mercies, " enables us to "see" him as particularly close to man, especially when man is suffering, when he is under threat at the very heart of his existence and dignity (Dives in misericordia, 2)." In our suffering and temptation we are tempted to reject our dignity and to reject God.Still, God has revealed to us our great need for Him. Our great need for His mercy. He manifested it on the cross. He gave it to us in divine revelation. It is a mystery that cannot be denied. It is a mystery that Thomas the Apostle realized the moment he touched the nail marks. In that moment, Thomas realized that for the last eight days, he was an idiot. Everything could not be explained through reason alone. His intellect was weak and frail. It had just spent eight days in error, due to his lack of faith. He had seen all of the beautiful things that Jesus had done, he had heard all of the teachings of Jesus about His resurrection, he had heard the witness of his brothers in the faith. He knew everything but it was not enough. Faith was needed. Trust in the divine revelation of God for His salvation. For Thomas the Apostle it took a miracle to accept God's mercy, Jesus said to him "you have believed because you have seen me." It seems to me it isn't likely that you will be given the opportunity to touch the nail marks in His hands. Why do men reject the truth? Why do men fail to respond to the call to love like Christ?  Certainly, it is because they don't want to change. But, at the end of the day maybe, just maybe, it is due to the hardness of a heart that has not experienced the divine power of the mercy of God in the confessional. Maybe, it is due to the pride of the mind, that prefers it's own little world to the vast expanse of God's omnipotent love. Maybe, it is a result of pride. Whatever, the reason, we must make it our business to allow God's greatest attribute to become the foundation for our witness to the Christian life.Pray for me