Sunday of Divine Mercy
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead....
Occasionally I meet an aging Veteran in the hospital who declines my offer of sacraments, saying, "I have not gone to church in many years. I'd be hypocritical if I started now."
There is a certain dignity in the remark but I wonder what he actually wants to do. I understand he thinks he must live by the decisions he has made, but what does he want to do?
Freedom may be called the ability to do what I want to do. The Lord lets us live with the consequences of our decisions but never takes away our freedom. In fact God is the very fountain of freedom; without God we never could have been, are not and never shall be free.
I asked a group of Veterans in treatment for alcoholism if an inmate at state prison might enjoy any freedom. Several had been there and assured me they enjoyed substantial freedom in jail. If one's sense of freedom is measured by one's desires, all you have to do is be content with your lot and you're as free as a bird.
The old man who still refuses the sacraments feels honor bound by past decisions and attitudes, but what does he want to do?
I love Jesus' question to the beggar Bartimaeus, "What do you want?" And I love the blind man's response, "I want to see." Simple question; simple answer. Very often our freedom is right there in front of us if only we would say what we want.
Mercy Sunday is a response to the odd phenomenon of Christians appearing in churches on Easter Sunday. Few can say why they came, or what they wanted. Perhaps they hoped they would not be noticed in the crowd. Announced a week in advance, Mercy Sunday invites un-churched believers to "come back and do what you want to do."
Saint Thomas dug himself into a hole when he sarcastically replied to the disciples, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
He was astonished when Jesus took him up on that challenge. Fortunately he was humble enough to eat his own words and reply, "My Lord and My God."
Every Sunday, every day, at every hour of every day the Lord offers us the freedom to love. So long as we choose to love we are free.