First Down (April 8, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter! For 50 days the Church celebrates Easter as we encounter the deep mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This Second Sunday of Easter is seen as Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II established this devotion to encounter the incredible mercy of God. As Jesus appears to the disciples, He is present to them in spite of the locked doors in fear for their own lives.

His words offer them “peace,” a peace that comes from God, not material things. He also gives them the authority to forgive sins, a beautiful invitation to encounter God, who frees us from fear, which many times locks our minds and lives behind closed doors. Sin separates us from unity with God and one another. Mercy truly is the passage to true freedom and peace.

There are two important ways we need to encounter this mercy of God. One is to open ourselves up to experience this daily by examining our lives. We do this by seeing where we can improve our lives. Where do we see brokenness, anger, anxiety, resentment or self inflicted pain? For example, look at the people we consider successful or visionary. In learning about their lives, many times they say they constantly look for improvement and they are eager to learn from their mistakes. Not everyone is like that; yet, if we can apply this to our lives in Christ, it can really make a difference. When we know God lifts us up from our failings and mistakes, we can avoid despair and lack of self love.

The second aspect of mercy is that our relationships need to be merciful. It is never enough to simply walk around thinking we are free from our sins, and then not being merciful to those we encounter. How well do we engage with people who do not share our values or opinions? How well do we give dignity to people that at times we judge less than us? How well do we deal with those who have hurt or wounded us? This too requires a daily examining of our relationships. Because we know ourselves, the mercy of God is what the Christian life is about. To teach the world that says it is acceptable to seek revenge, get even with those who have done wrong to us or making people pay for their bad ways, is not what Easter mercy is all about. Yet the reason that people might think this is proper living is because there is no experience of God’s mercy.

On Divine Mercy Sunday we come to know firsthand God’s incredible mercy and we leave Mass today ready to bring that mercy to a world that needs to see it through us.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric