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Homily for Sunday, April 7, 2024

Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy

Anyone who knows me or has listened to a few of my sermons knows I have had deep struggles with my faith. I sometimes question even whether God exists or not. Now, to be sure, I’ve been a priest for almost 25 years, and I assure you that I’m rock solid now, but it hasn’t always been like that. I remember once, a long time ago, I spent several months living in a complete rejection of the reality of God. I just stopped believing in Him. I just said no. It was not out of fear like the apostle Peter or despair like Judas. It was an intellectual doubt. I just couldn’t see how God was possible, how Jesus could have risen from the dead, or, more interestingly, how God could love me. 

And you are not going to believe the one thing that brought me out of this non-religious stupor. I’m in my kitchen back in the day, watching my cat, Confucius (who has since passed away) drink from the kitchen tap. He sees me in the kitchen and comes running for me to turn the tap on. My cat, Calvin, does the same thing today. Then, one day, I was watching the little feller, and you know what? He almost turned the tap on himself. But he didn’t. He was so close. Watching this play out, I realized that no matter what, my cat would never understand how that tap worked. Sometimes we can be genuinely amazed about what our animals know and understand, how affectionate they are, and how they miss us when we’re gone. But there are some things in our world that my animal just cannot know. I have a red dot pointer; all I have to do is pick it up, and it seems they come running. But they will not turn in the direction I point it. They’ll follow the dot but not the direction the actual instrument is pointing. if they’re looking towards me, I cannot get them to look behind them. They don’t understand that the machine creates the dot. They think it’s some kind of weird bug—a demonic firefly.

I mention all this by introduction because that realization allowed me to open my heart to God. At that moment, I asked myself, “Could I simply not understand everything? Could there just be more to our reality than I can ever understand with the intellect that I have, such as it is?” I believe this is true. There is so much that my mind can’t and won’t understand. This is the realm of mystery, and it’s a beautiful thing. Unlike the cat, we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of our world, ourselves, and God. But is it possible that we don’t know everything yet? This is where God lives, and I was a fool for not allowing that possibility. 

Allow me to illustrate with an example from the realm of science fiction. Consider this scene from the movie Men in Black. Will Smith plays a character who is being recruited to a special police force that monitors the activities of aliens from outer space who live on Earth. As the story goes, most of the people in this world live in complete ignorance that aliens even exist, let alone populate our planet. And this well-organized secret force, which is aware of all these activities, is tasked with keeping us safe and in ignorance of this radical truth. 

There is an interesting scene in this movie. Will Smith is being enticed to join this force and all has been revealed to him. He must now decide whether to continue on this path. If he chooses not to, his memory will be erased, and he will continue. So his recruiter, played by Tommy Lee Jones, makes this observation (I am paraphrasing here):  

  • Yesterday, you thought we were alone in the universe;

  • Today, you realize we are not alone; we have lived among many aliens from outer space.  

  • Think of what you will know tomorrow. 

What an exciting question. Now think about St. Thomas from today’s Gospel:  

  • Yesterday, he doubted, and he did not accept that Jesus had rose from the dead. 

  • Today, he saw with his own eyes that Jesus was alive. He knew it. 

  • Think about what he will know tomorrow. 

The same observation applies to the disciples of Jesus: 

  • Yesterday, they thought the messiah was coming in the future. 

  • Today, they know that the Messiah is Jesus, and he rose from the dead because they saw Him. 

  • Think of what they will know tomorrow

What about you and I?

  • Yesterday, you thought you were alone in the universe. You thought the world had no meaning, or worse, that it was falling apart. 

  • Today, you came to understand that Jesus is alive. The God who created the universe is with you even now, deep in your heart, calling you to new life. 

  • Think of what you will know tomorrow. As St. Paul said in his writings, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him. 

What, then, is the key to faith? We have to unlearn what we thought we knew. We have to unlearn that you are alone, or that you are miserable, or that your suffering is eternal. You have to unlearn that you are unforgivable, that your fear is justified, that you are not free. You have to unlearn that your life is meaningless. You must unlearn that you are weak, small, shadowy, and ugly. You have to open yourself up to the possibility that you are divine. This is what divine mercy means and what we celebrate today. 

I offer this simple conclusion, my prayer for mercy:  

Lord, I know you are my saviour. But there is so much more I have to learn. Help me unlearn the things that hold me back from believing you so that I can learn how much you love me.  Help me forget what I have done wrong so I can feel your mercy and love. And help me learn how much you love me so I can live the life you want me to live, with peace, joy, goodwill and service. 


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