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Bishop's Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

April 24, 2022

[St. Augustine Church, Waikiki (Confirmation & First Communion); Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Confirmation & First Communion); St. Roch Church, Kahuku (Confirmation & First Communion)]

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero we remember with a national holiday because of his heroic work to bring racial justice to our country.  Presidents’ Day honors President Abraham Lincoln, who was most noted for ending slavery in our country.  We have two saints in Hawaii, St. Damien and St. Marianne, because we admire their great faith in laying down their lives to care for those who were sick and abandoned by society.  There are, of course, many other saints we admire and strive to imitate because of the many heroic virtues they lived.  But we are gathered here today to remember the greatest of all holy heroes, our Lord Jesus Christ.  In many ways, these other saints and famous people of history were inspired by him and his self-sacrificing love.  But he is very different from all the other good people we admire, whether they are people famous in history or people close to us who are only known to those who are their families and friends.  Jesus is not just someone who lived in the past, who taught inspiring things and who lived an exemplary life we should all try to imitate.  Yes, he was this, but unlike the others, he died and rose from the dead, and so is still alive and is active among us to this very day.

No, we may not see Jesus as his Apostles did.  We may not be able to put our fingers into his wounds or our hands into his pierced side, but as he said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  And, of course, this is why we are here today, and why it is essential that we gather here every Sunday of the year – and more often, if we can – so that we can encounter him in his risen presence.  What he did 2,000 years ago, he is still doing today.

When Jesus saw his Apostles the night of the resurrection, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  And Jesus is here today to breathe out the very same Holy Spirit on you who are going to be confirmed.  Yes, what you see with your eyes is the old bishop, but it is the risen Jesus himself who anoints you with the Holy Spirit.  He does this for the same reason, so that you can be instruments of his merciful love to others, so that you can do the Godly work of bringing healing from sin to the world.

But there is something even better that is offered to us than to the Apostles.  Yes, they could touch Jesus and see him; and although we cannot see him, we have the great privilege of eating his Body and drinking his Blood, so that he can live in us and we can be members of his risen Body, still walking the earth and working his wonders.  In his name we can say, “Peace be with you!” when we work for peace by not bullying, but helping those who are in need, or by loving even those who do not love us very much.  We can heal others with the power of the Holy Spirit he gives us by reaching out to them with our prayers.  We can show God’s merciful love when we are merciful toward others whose failings can lead them closer to God.  We become what we eat, so that, being in intimate and holy communion with the risen Jesus, we can carry on his work in our very day.

Jesus, unlike other people we admire but who left us their memory only, leaves us himself as living Bread come down from heaven, so that when he enters us, he can then live in our homes, in our schools, and wherever we go.  We may not be able to put our fingers into his nail marks or our hands into his side, but we can be filled with joy because we believe he is alive and is truly with us.  As the Father sent him, so he sends us to bring his Divine Mercy and love to all the world.