Grace to you!
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I reflect on the mercy of God and how we are blessed to be its unmerited beneficiaries.
Whenever I come out of the confessional, having confessed my sins to the Lord, my heart is filled with joy at the mercy of God I’ve received. I realize I don’t necessarily deserve what I receive at God’s throne of mercy. The healing, the joy and the blessing of the divine life isn’t necessarily because of the input of my own hands. It’s God who gifts me with His life.
Right from the start of my faith life, I see God making the first move all the time. As believers, we are people granted the grace of faith. We are called in love to communion with our Creator. It isn’t because we merit it or because we are perfect. Basic Christian theology teaches us that the choice is first made by God our creator. “You did not choose me. I chose you” says the Lord (Jn 15: 16).
Another way to express this incredible grace is to say that despite our weaknesses, God brought us to Himself. God looked at us with mercy and kindness. God’s love expressed in tender compassion gave us access of belonginess unto His life.
In mercy, we are begotten. In compassionate love, we are embraced. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, was spot on in describing God’s compassionate love for us--The Name of God is Mercy (2016). Because of God’s mercy, you and I have a shot for renewed life.
We read from one of the oldest Old Testament texts, Deuteronomy, how God’s covenant with His people has an essential attribute of mercy (Dt 9:4-5). When God looks at us in our messiness, I doubt if it is with the eye of justice He does so. I believe it is with the eye of mercy. For no one can stand the justice of God.
When Pope Saint John Paul II wrote about the amazing reconciliation between God and us in his Dives in Misericordia, he was pointing us to the truth that amidst sin, the mercy of God already invites us to restoration. God is abundantly rich in mercy. Permit me to quote an excerpt from the beautiful words of the Pope to us: “Conversion to God always consists in discovering his mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind (cf. 1 Cor 13:4) as only the Creator and Father can be; …Conversion to God is always the fruit of the ‘rediscovery’ of this Father, who is rich in mercy” (John Paul II, Dives in misericordia, 13).
I read the story of the covenant between God and Noah (Gn 9:8-15). I cannot but see that beyond the destruction of the flood, was the mercy of God who restores and offers a sign of the rainbow as a symbolic reminder to generations that He forgives, shows mercy and restores.
It isn’t surprising to me at all to notice that the first thing, the first sacrament, ever spoken of by the Risen Lord to his disciples after the resurrection was the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He tells them to go about being disciples of his reconciliation and mercy.
Scripture tells us the Lord instituted this on the evening of the first day of the week. The Lord Jesus spoke to the timid disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:19-23).
This is important to the Lord. He wants his people to be healed and forgiven. He wants his people to receive the mercy he has established on the cross and the graces he pours from the resurrection. He gifts the Church through this sacrament with the graces to be missionaries of this mercy.
We receive this when we go to confession. There we hear those words that bring us in touch with our Lord and restores us to spiritual health. Your sins are forgiven. “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
Thank you, Lord, for the grace of your mercy and healing. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Divine Mercy Sunday: Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11A; 12-13; 17-19; Jn 20:19-31]
Grace to you!
Before I share today’s reflection, may you please join me in prayers for a private intention. It has to do with a friend and a brother priest who is passing through a terrible experience right now. I would prefer not to mention the name. I trust your prayers will go a long way for him, his family and the great number of people he inspires.
In today’s reflection, I share how a personal experience of the Lord’s healing grace strengthens the power of bearing witness to the faith. I use it as a source of inspiration to you in your daily commitments as a believer in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Over the years, I’ve known many people who have encountered the Lord in a personal way. I’ve met and interacted with people to whom the Lord has shown the favor of a miracle. It could be a healing miracle. A miracle of providence. A miracle of conversion. Name it.
In my life and ministry too, I’ve seen the Lord Jesus Christ do wonders. He heals the sick. He dispels the darkness of evil. He upturns the satanic strongholds. He heals and renews broken relationships. He strengthens the weary. The Lord goes on doing incredible things. To whom the Lord has touched in personal ways, there is the joy and boldness of singing the hallelujah of his greatness.
One notices that to whom the Lord has touched deeply and personally, their faith is stronger. They get more passionate. They aren’t apologetic for believing in the Savior Jesus Christ. They aren’t shy of their faith either. Good, bad and ugly experiences do not make them waver. They’ve seen. They’ve witnessed the good things. They’ve sipped the Water of Life. Their testimony is strong, profoundly personal as well. They know in good times and in bad times, the Lord of hosts is their strength and their refuge.
Yes, miracles are signs. Yet they are needed signs when faith is growing cold. They are needed signs when one is passing through a dark night experience capable of tearing one’s heart apart. In such moments, we look up to the Lord, from whom comes our help (Ps 124:8).
Be assured of this: The Lord hears. The Lord does the miracle. The Lord intervenes. Those divine interventions strengthen the power of bearing witness to the faith.
When one witnesses the Lord’s miracle, one is bold enough to tell it forth. We learn from basic catechesis that one has to witness the transforming grace of the Lord in order to be a witness of it to others.
The beautiful and bold testimony of Saint Peter as recorded in Acts 4:1-12 is a proof. The Lord has used him to heal the cripple at the Beautiful gate (see Acts 3). The once timid Peter wasn’t afraid anymore to tell forth what he had seen. He has seen the healing power of God in a personal way. He can’t but declare what he had seen. Not doing so would’ve been doing harm to one’s core and moral sense.
Peter declares, without mincing words, it is “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).
Praying for the grace of boldness of faith in declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Easter Octave: Acts 4:1-12; Jn 21:1-14]
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.