It doesn’t get any better than this!
Homily preached on April 24th, 2022
by Monsignor Michael Deering
Years ago when I lived in San Jose, California, as a Manager for Kodak, I knew
a guy named Jim, a Manager for Hewlett Packard, who had a nice ski boat.
On several occasions we would take his boat out on the waterways east of San Francisco Bay and waterski. It was a lot of fun.
The water was still, the weather was perfect and we would tradeoff skiing for hours.
Then with the afternoon sun setting and the water calm all around us we’d sit back and have a sandwich and a cold beer on the boat. and Jim would regularly say,
“It doesn’t get any better than this!”
To him, he couldn’t imagine anything else at the moment that could improve on the enjoyment we just experienced with
sunshine and warm breeze, good skiing and delicious food and drink.
And Jim would express his great delight ... “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
Perhaps you’ve experienced moments like that in your life... moments so very good
In fact, for those of you who attended the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Mass last week ... you may well have said or felt those very same words!
You may well have been touched by the immensity of God’s love ...
that He showed by offering His Son, Jesus, up to death ...
in order to bring Redemption to the whole world ... once for all ...
And especially for our RCIA class, who came into the church by Baptism at the Easter Vigil, or by Profession of Faith on Easter Sunday, Easter was very special!
Several shared at our Tuesday follow-up meeting ... how profound it was to be baptized or to go Confession ... and then receive their First Holy Communion.
They said things like: It was incredible;
I never felt such peace and relief;
I don’t have the words to describe it.
Easter was profound for them ... and hopefully for you too.
You see ... if you open yourself to it ... Easter gets better every year ...
as we grow in our understanding and our appreciation of what God did for us ...
we are filled with great gratitude and satisfaction for the love and mercy received.
Most of our parish went to Confession during Holy Week ... and thereby opened themselves to the same relief and gladness at being forgiven for their sins.
So you Brand New Catholics and you longterm Catholics may have felt like
my friend, Jim ... and thought to yourself...
“It doesn’t get any better than this!”
But you know what? It does!
Yes it does ... because the Love of God and the Mercy of God are infinite ...
so there’s always more to receive and experience.
Last Sunday we celebrated Jesus’ victory over sin ... that put us back into ...
a right relationship with the Father ... and opened the Gates of Heaven.
That’s huge ... that makes Easter .... the Greatest Day in History,
that makes Easter ... the Greatest day ever!
So you may have left Mass feeling, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Only to come here today and hear this Gospel passage from John 20 that describes how Jesus, in the vastness of His Love for us, quickly established the way ...
that we would be prepared to enter ... the newly-opened Gates of Heaven!
Yes, today we heard that Jesus gave access to His Mercy through His Priests
by giving them the power to forgive sins!
John tells us that on Easter Sunday morning,
the Risen Jesus came into the midst of the Apostles through locked doors
and breathed on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In doing so, He bestowed on them the Spirit of God ...
which made them dispensers of God’s mercy!
He said, “The sins you forgive are forgiven.”
Wow! Jesus gave the power to forgive sins to men!
That means that He would pour out His Mercy on the world
in a previously unheard of way ...
through the ministers of His Church ... the Bishops and the Priests ...
in a Sacrament that has come to be called: Confession or Reconciliation.
So you see ... it got better!
It’s one thing to have the Gates of Heaven opened ...
but it’s another thing to have access to the means to purify our hearts so that our souls can be purified to enable us to enter through the Gates of Heaven.
For Scripture says, “Nothing unclean will enter the Kingdom of God”.
So ... as of Easter Sunday evening ... we’ve had access to God’s mercy ...
through the Priests of His Church!
Jesus affirmed this over the past 2000 years through the teachings and instructions of the Catholic Church.
And Jesus affirmed this in a special way through private revelations to
St. Faustina in the 1930’s.
From her Diary writings, here’s what Our Lord said to her about Confession.
“When you go to Confession, to this fountain of mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul. ... In the Tribunal of Mercy [the sacrament of Reconciliation] ... the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. ... Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.”
“Come with faith to the feet of My representative. ... I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest ... I Myself act in your soul. Make your confession before Me. The person of the Priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of Priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light.”
“Were a soul like a decaying corpse, so that from a human standpoint, there would be no hope of restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full ... From this fountain of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.”
(The Divine Mercy ... Message and Devotion booklet ... p. 66)
So, Jesus is assuring us that there is no sin too big to be forgiven!
Yes, God’s infinite Mercy can remedy all our sins.
Receiving forgiveness for our sins is the first step to being ready to enter Heaven.
The second and final step for being ready to enter Heaven is ...
making reparation for the sins we have committed.
Making reparation means repairing the wounds we caused by sinning.
Just as accidentally backing into your car and breaking your taillight does damage ...
many of our sins do damage too. Lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping are examples of sins that damage lives and relationships.
While Jesus can forgive these sins ...
He expects us to seek to repair the wounds we’ve made.
That’s why the Priest always assigns a Penance in the Sacrament of Confession.
We always leave Confession forgiven of our sins ...
but the expectation is that we would seek to make reparation for those sins.
Hopefully you will forgive the guy who accidentally backed into your car and broke your taillight. But your expectation is that he would be willing to repair the damage.
Forgiveness and Reparation ... both are required for recovery from sin.
This is why the Church has always encouraged making Acts of Penance ...
offering up Prayers and Sacrifices ... not just during Lent ... but every Friday ... reverencing the day the Lord died ... and in fact doing Penance as often as possible.
Yes, receiving Mercy and making amends are both required to enter into Heaven.
Well, in Jesus’ infinite love for us ... He desires to pour forth not only His Mercy ...
but also His help in repairing the wounds of our sins!
This special help of the Lord is available to us on this day ...
the Sunday after Easter ... the day we celebrate Jesus as the Divine Mercy!
In the Jubilee Year of 2000, Pope St. John Paul II, as the Vicar of Christ’s Church, declared that all Catholics, who will go to Confession before this day, attend Mass on this Day, worthily receive Holy Communion on this day,
pray for the intentions of the Pope, and have total detachment from sin,
will receive complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.
Yes, Mercy & Reparation received at the same time!
Can we even begin to comprehend how incredible this offer is?
Yes, we know that we receive God’s forgiveness for our sins
each time we celebrate the sacrament of Confession.
But Jesus goes way beyond that here by offering the complete remission of all temporal punishment ... meaning that all the time that we would need to spend in Purgatory because of our sins is wiped away. It’s called a Plenary indulgence!
This means that all wounds for our whole life would be repaired …
forgiveness granted and reparation made together ... at the same time!
It’s like having your parking lot accident forgiven
and the car repaired ... in the same instant!
A plenary indulgence removes all sin and all punishment at the same time!
In the words of my friend ... “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
A Plenary Indulgence ... that’s a tremendous expression of God’s infinite Mercy!
If there’s one Mass you would not want to miss in your life ...
it would be the Mass offered each Divine Mercy Sunday!
Realizing that a Pastor would be unable to hear the Confessions
of his whole church on one day ...
the window of opportunity to go to Confession is 14 days ...
from Palm Sunday and throughout Holy Week ...
plus Easter Sunday and throughout the Octave of Easter.
That is why we celebrate our Parish Penance Service Monday of Holy Week
and offered extended hours of Confession after the evening Liturgies.
Let’s not miss the chance to draw deeply on Jesus’ endless fountain of Mercy!
Keeping our Psalm Response on our lips throughout the day,,
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.”
Please rejoice and revel in Easter Joy ... it just gets better and better.
Stay the course of goodness so that you can enter the Gates of Heaven!
For it’s there inside Heaven that you’ll be able to say for all Eternity ...
It doesn’t get any better than this!