Mercy Sets Us Free

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday (Year B)
April 11, 2021
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 8:00 AM
Sacred Heart EGF – 10:00 AM

Focus:             Mercy sets us free
Function:         Jesus, I trust in you.


Carravagio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas, 1601-1602.

The doors were locked.

They were locked for protection.
They were locked for fear.

Those who crucified Jesus would, perhaps, seek to kill the disciples. They were locked out.
But the disciples were locked in.

On the evening of that first day of the week, the doors were locked.

A locked door won’t stop the risen Jesus.
The locked door of death didn’t stop Jesus.

He comes.
He stands in their midst.
He speaks. 

Shalom.  Peace be with you.

They had denied, betrayed, run away. 

He walks through the locked door and speaks words of peace.
He shows them mercy.

Mercy set them free.
Mercy unlocked the door.

And with great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. 
They bore witness to what they had seen.

Brothers and sisters, as for the disciples, so too for us.  All too often, for us:
The doors are locked.
Our hearts are locked.  Hardened. 

They are unwilling to believe that things can be different,

Unwilling to believe
that Jesus could forgive me,
that I need forgiveness
that I need Jesus

I think that I can protect myself by locking the door.  I can save myself.  I don’t need anyone.  The sign is on the locked door: Keep out!  Stay away! 

Christ wants our freedom.
Christ came to set us free.

You and I were not made to live behind locked doors,

We were made to GO OUT,
          to be free
          to love and serve the Lord and one another
          to witness with great power to the Resurrection of Jesus.

As a priest, one of the most fulfilling things is to watch a Thomas come back to the upper room of the confessional and to see him show his wounds to Jesus…the wounds from the sins he has committed…the chains that have him bound, the chains of which he cannot free himself.  He shows them to the priest.  He trembles with fear and embarrassment.

Then Jesus, through the priest, smiles at Thomas.

He speaks a word:
Shalom.  Peace be with you.

He speaks the word of absolution.

The key is inserted into the lock.  It turns.  The tumblers give way and the chains fall.  The door is opened.

Thomas breathes a sign of relief…the sigh of the Spirit is breathed forth from the lips of the penitent as new life is breathed into him.

He leaves the door of the darkened confessional and steps out into the light.

He goes – changed – and…with great power, he bears witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus whom he has seen.

Mercy sets us free.

Mercy unlocks the door
          not so that those who would harm us can come in
          but so that we can go out
                   go out carrying the power of the Spirit in us
go out and free others by bearing witness to what we have seen: the risen
Christ who has appeared to us!

The doors were locked.

Brothers and sisters,
where is there a locked door in your life?

Where do you see the locked door?  In yourself?  In another?

Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. 

Today’s feast reminds us that the most hardened, locked heart can be opened.
It can be opened today.

Jesus told St. Faustina that on this day special graces flow from the side of Christ unto the world…today Jesus’ grace is given even to the most hardened hearts.

Today is the 8th day.
Today is the day that Jesus walks through the locked door and stands in the midst of his disciples. 

Picture your locked door.

Picture the door in a room of your heart that you are afraid to open.  The room that you haven’t shown to anyone.  The area of shame, of sin, of pain.  The door to that room is locked out of fear.  You don’t want to look in there.  Or you are trapped in their and you can’t bring yourself to look outside.

Jesus wants to come but you are afraid.

Perhaps you are hearing the voice of Jesus asking you to do something that scares you…
To go out…
To follow where he is leading you…

Look at that locked door.  Are you picturing it?

Now whisper, out loud, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
He can unlock the door.

Free Barabbas Day

Good Friday Homily
April 2, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF – 7 PM


Ecce Homo “Behold the Man” by Antonio Ciseri, 1871

Do you know what day it is today? I thought I knew…until one of the altar servers asked me that question at our rehearsal this morning. He enlightened me.

It’s “Free Barabbas Day.”

His favorite part of the Passion, apparently, is when the whole congregation exuberantly exclaims: “Not this one, but Barabbas!” And so, to him, today is “Free Barabbas Day.”

Indeed.  Wisdom from a high schooler. Because, for all of us, today is “Free Barabbas Day.”

After all, who is Barabbas?

You are. 

I am. 

Barabbas was a revolutionary…a rebel.  Is not rebellion the sin of Adam and Eve?  Is that not the sin that each one of us has inherited?  Has committed at some point in our lives?

Barabbas was the one enslaved in a prison of his own making, of his own choices. Barabbas was one who deserved to die for what he had done. Along comes Jesus on that first Good Friday, and that Good Friday became “Free Barabbas Day.”

He was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins,
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole.

The guilty man goes free and the innocent man takes his place.

I wonder what Barabbas did with the rest of his life?