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Second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday: Homily - Deacon Bill Tunilla

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is a campaign tactic or grand tactic based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.  I think it’s safe to say after hearing our Gospel reading, the disciples were in shock and afraid.  For John tells us, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Now who could blame the disciples for barracking themselves in after experiencing the horror of seeing just what their enemies were capable of doing.

It all started off with a day of awe on Palm Sunday.  Here Jesus is riding on a donkey and people are spreading out their cloaks on the road and laying down branches shouting Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the king of our father David that is to come, Hosanna in the Highest.

But Thursday during the Passover meal things begin to change and the enemy is at work crafting his shock campaign on the disciples and Jesus.  John tells us that Jesus knew his hour had come to pass from this world and that the devil had induced Judas of Iscariot to hand Jesus over to his enemies. 

Then Jesus did something to shock Peter just a bit when he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.  He then took a towel and tied it around his waist, poured water in a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and dry them with a towel.  Peter who is taken back tells Jesus, you will never wash my feet but Jesus convinced Peter this was necessary and he had his feet washed by the Lord.

Soon after Jesus goes with his disciples to pray and while praying Judas betrays him and Jesus is arrested.  Peter cuts of the ear of the servant and a young man following him was seized but he left his linen cloth behind and ran off naked.  Jesus is taken to Pilate where he is questioned while the disciples wait in the court yard.  One of the maid servants recognizes Peter but Peter probably in shock and afraid denies Christ 3 three times.

Still the enemy wasn’t finished.  The shock value is turned up even more by having Jesus scourged and then led off to be crucified.  You can image the shock they were in as Jesus struggled to carry His cross.  When they got to Golgotha his disciples were nowhere to be found, just Mary and John were left at the foot of the cross.

On Easter Sunday morning things begin to change.  John tells us, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. 

When they got there the stone was rolled back and they ran back to tell Simon Peter.  Peter and another disciple ran to the tomb.  Then they saw and believed but did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

In today’s Gospel the disciples get yet another great shock when Jesus enters the room and stands in their midst, and says: "Peace be to you." then shows them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced because they had seen the Lord.

Talk about shock and awe.  They could have never imaged after all they went through that Jesus would return alive and be standing among them.  Now when Thomas comes back and the disciples tell him they saw the Lord.  Thomas must have thought they’ve been locked up too long in the room and may have said something like you guys need to get out and get some fresh air.   Then Thomas replies, “Unless I see the print of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the print of the nails, and unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Another week elapses and Jesus came back again; and this time Thomas was there. Jesus knew Thomas' heart. He repeated Thomas' own words, and invited him to make the test that he had demanded.

Out of Thomas heart flowed awe and devotion, and all he could say was, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him: "Thomas, have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

All of us at one time in our lives have experienced or read about events that shocked and awed us.  It seems to me each day brings something more shocking.  Our soul’s enemy, Satan wants to shock us into submission.  He wants us to lose our faith and run and hide.  There is nothing more He wants than for us to lose soul’s to him. 

The shocking event of the crucifixion turned out to be our awe of salvation when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.  Perhaps it is something of our human nature that we do not automatically believe in the awe of the Good news or any news that might seem to be too good to be true.  That can be a natural defense mechanism. 

But today we learn that God wants to surprise us with joy.  He wants us to live in the awe of life of the resurrection.  Rather than to be shocked into submission, He wants us to be joyful in the knowledge that love is greater than death. 

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament of Poland came to understand the awe.  She too was in shock and discouraged when those around her denied her request to become a religious sister, then she shared she felt fear when Jesus first appeared to her in visions, but she came to find found awe. In one of her visions Jesus explained he wished the Divine Mercy image to be "solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy." Today the church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday and a celebration will be held later today at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at 2 p.m. if you would like to attend.

Indeed today is a day of awe as we consider God’s endless mercy, his divine mercy.  Let God transform the shock of our lives.  Allow the pain, loss and abandonment to be transformed by the light of Christ into a awe of life, peace, and wholeness with our God.  Let Christ’s divine image as given to Blessed Faustina be ours, and like Thomas let us proclaim  …My Lord and my God.


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