Home » Gospel Encouragement – Divine Mercy Sunday – 12th April 2021

Gospel Encouragement – Divine Mercy Sunday – 12th April 2021

Dear sisters and brothers,

Greetings on this feast of the Divine Mercy.

This Lent my father decided to do something constructive spiritually, rather than give something up, so he set himself the challenge of reading the Gospel of Luke.  Well, that proved way too easy and before he knew it he’d read through the Acts of the Apostles and, even beyond Easter Sunday, is well into St Paul’s Letter to the Romans.  This week he excitedly told me that he’d found a passage that he could relate to really well.  It was in Romans, chapter 7, and it goes like this:

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me…I can will what is right, but I cannot do it… Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.”

Why do I share this with you?  Well, because it came to mind as I read today’s second reading and Gospel.  In the reading, St John makes it sound so easy:

“This is what loving God is – keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.”

But it doesn’t feel so easy.  As my father, and St Paul, and probably all of us feel, God’s commandments can seem difficult at times, particularly when we so often see ourselves tripping up and doing the exact opposite of what we want to do:  we do not understand our own actions, for we do not do what we want, but we do the very thing we hate…”

But the key is in the final line of that reading, and in the Gospel and in the season that we now find ourselves in.  The next few weeks have two readings as bookends.  Today we hear St John’s account of Pentecost, when Jesus breathes his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, into the apostles in the upper room.  At the end of these weeks of Easter we will hear St Luke’s account of the same occasion, but his recollections are of the Holy Spirit being sent from heaven once Jesus has ascended.  Whichever description we focus on the fruit is the same.  The apostles are inspired – in-spirited – in a new way to boldly witness to the world in a way in which they wouldn’t have dreamed possible before.  They still sinned, they still got things massively wrong – the Acts of the Apostles details that very clearly – but they had confidence in something bigger, despite of their sin: the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and their faith in the Father, the Son and the same Holy Spirit.  They knew their human frailty, but they trusted more in the enormity of the forgiving power of God.

With my father, St Paul and all of us they would have said:  we do not understand our own actions, for we do not do what we want, but we do the very thing we hate.  But with St Paul, and hopefully with each of us, they would have added: who will rescue us? Thanks be to God because Jesus Christ our Lord has already done so! With our flesh we may feel like slaves to sin, but with our minds we have chosen to be slaves of God, and that is what is important.  Jesus’ death and resurrection set us free from the slavery to sin.  Every time we pray, every time we go to Confession, every time we receive Holy Communion, we are choosing the fruit of his death and resurrection – to be slaves of God, not sin, even though at times we may give in to temptation.  St John makes it sound so easy because, as he concludes that paragraph: this is the victory over the world, over sin, over our human frailty – our faith!!!

The fact that you are reading this today highlights that, in faith, you have chosen Jesus over sin, the devil, and the world.  The challenge that God gives us is to keep on doing that more and more each day, to be ever more open to the breath of his Holy Spirit throughout the day, until choosing him ultimately overcomes all the temptations to sin that may be thrown at us.  In a few seconds of silence let’s open ourselves up to a new Pentecost moment, here and now, taking another step in choosing to be faith-filled apostles of God, rather than slaves of sin.  Let’s open our hands on our laps as a gesture of openness to the will and the gift of God; let’s close our eyes so as not to be distracted; and let’s breathe in the breath of God, the breath of the Holy Spirit.

Come O Holy Spirit!  Come O Holy Spirit!  Come O Holy Spirit!

Be still, for a few moments now, in the presence of the Holy Spirit

 

And with St Paul we say: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

With every blessing,

Simon