Divine Mercy Sunday (A); April 23, 2017
Acts 2:42-47 Ps 118 1 Pt 1:3-9 Jn 20:19-31
Deacon Jim McFadden; (New) Folsom Prison
Today’s gospel begins “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked…” (Jn 20:1). Why were they locked? The disciples were afraid. They were trying to protect themselves from what threatened their safety and security. They were clinging to the old ways of thinking and living that bolstered their fragile existence.
In Folsom Prison what would this Old Consciousness look like? One sees it on the yard everyday: men living out the same drama behind bars that got them into prison in the first place. It’s disguising their brokenness and vulnerability with a machismo that strives to project a strong, get-out-of-my-face bravado. It’s being haunted by past failures, bad decisions, uncertainties, and loss of freedom by drowning this pain with drugs, alcohol, pornography, and violence.
Right in the middle of that dysfunction Jesus appears. When does the Resurrected Christ appear to the fearful disciples? “On the evening of the first day of the week.” He appears in the midst of their darkness, when things seem so hopeless. And, he does so on the “first day of the week.” Brothers, the Risen Christ is bringing us a new creation. In Genesis on the first day of the week, God began to create heaven and earth. As Jesus is risen from the dead, there is a new creating, a new beginning. You are meant to be a new creation; you are meant to be reborn in the Resurrected Christ. There is no external obstacle that stands between you and Jesus’ invitation to the fullness of life. The only obstacle is internal. So, say “yes” to this opportunity, brothers, because there’s so much at stake: your very well being, your joy, your salvation.
But, why should we say “yes”? In John’s first letter, it is revealed that “God is love.” And, Jesus, the Word made Flesh, is the perfect incarnation of God’s love. The final act of Jesus’ earthly existence was to die to sin—our sins killed Jesus! But, that awful event is also a sign of hope because His Resurrection reveals to us that love is victorious and the risk of living a life of love is worth it. People of God at Folsom Prison know that Love is triumphant; that mercy of God is always victorious. Gratefully receive his mercy; don’t turn Jesus, Love incarnate, (New) away.
Just as the Risen Jesus did in the Gospel reading, He can burst into the confines of our isolated, sinful, and fearful soul. Jesus wants to burst into your heart and soul because He loves you. He gave His life for you so that you may life NOW and FOREVER! As St. Augustine reminds us, if you are the only person on this earth, Jesus would have suffered and died for your salvation. Look at the crucified Christ: that’s how much God loves you. That’s our starting point. Open your heart to Jesus; let His Good News transform your mind and heart. What is this Good News? Jesus is Risen!—He has overcome sin and death. If God can wrest such ultimate triumph from the jaws of such apparent defeat on Good Friday, what might He do with your past bad decisions, current obsessions, and losses of your own life? Brothers, if God can overcome sin and death, can’t He transform our brokenness?
The answer is a resounding “YES!” because Jesus is risen. Do you get the implication of that fact? There is hope for you because you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! You can live new Life right here and now in Folsom Prison because Jesus is Risen and He dwells within and among us. We don’t have to wait to participate in His Resurrected life because it is abundantly available to us right here and now. We simply have to gratefully surrender to our Risen Lord and receive His Resurrected life.
What will it mean when we surrender to our Lord, Who is the Resurrection? It means that the love of God will dwell within you and among your brothers and sisters, which is the Church. It means that his love is stronger than any evil and death that lurks within these prison walls. It means that the love of God can transform your lives and let those lonely desert places in your hearts blossom with joy and enthusiasm for the God who is present.
So, this is the invitation which has been extended to us by Jesus. Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection. Let us be renewed by divine mercy. Let us allow Jesus to love us, to enable the power of his love to transform our mind and heart. And, let us share with others what we have received in abundance. (Let us imitate the special call that Sr. Maria Faustina received when Jesus said to this simple, uneducated, young Polish nun: “I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my My merciful Heart.” Let us become agents of this mercy; let us be channels which God can water the dry, cracked earth of Folsom Prison. Let us make justice and peace flourish. Let us proclaim and live that HE IS RISEN!