Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily, Second Sunday after Easter, April 15, 2012, Fr. Ken Hughes, SJ

Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35;   First letter of John 5:1-6;  John 20:19-31

St. Mary of the Angels:  4/15/12


On Holy Thursday, my rector wrote a letter to our entire community.  In it he encouraged us during the Holy Triduum to “look to the face of Jesus.”  Four times, he asked us to “look to the face of Jesus.”  And the last time, he pleaded, “My dear brothers, let us look intimately and deeply at the face of Jesus.”  I felt that he wrote those words from deep emotion and I heard them, and still hear them, with deep emotion: “Look at the face of Jesus.”  


He wanted us to look at the face of Jesus as Jesus was looking into the faces of his disciples at the Last Supper and the Foot Washing.  He wanted us to look at the face of Jesus sweating in the garden or dripping with blood before Pilate. He wanted us to look at the face of Jesus gazing sorrowfully down upon us from the cross, and to look at the face of Jesus in repose, cradled in the arms of his mother.


But the physical Jesus of Nazareth of yesterday is our risen spiritual Lord today.  His face is not just the face of paintings and statues, of icons and crucifixes, nor the face of our imagination.  Where do we actually see the face of Jesus today?


On Good Friday, when we walked for some two and a half hours through the neighborhood around St. Mary of the Angels, I had time to look at the faces of our community: old faces and young faces, happy faces and sad faces, peaceful faces and tired faces, but mostly, reflective faces.  We were following the cross of Jesus but we were all carrying our own inner cross, symbolized by the stone or rock in our hands, and I could glimpse a tiny something of that cross in the face of each as we walked along in song and in silence.


And now, like the disciples of Jesus, we are gathered in a room, and, as with the disciples, it is the first day of the week. However, the doors are not locked and we are not gathered in fear.  But, are we aware that Jesus is among us?  He does not walk through walls and locked doors.  Rather, He emerges from within the community.  He is here with us, but we can see Him only with our spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith.  It is only with spiritual eyes that we can see Him in the transformed bread and wine of the Eucharist.  As with the disciples, He wants to show us his wounds of hands and feet and heart.  But, we will see them only if we are paying attention to the wounds of one another.  As with the disciples, He says to us, “Peace be with you” over an over.  But, we will hear Him only if we hear his voice in the greeting of peace from one another.


In John’s Gospel,  Resurrection and Pentecost are one and the same.  Jesus comes breathing the power of the Spirit into his disciples.  This Spirit is the Spirit of peace because She works for unity.  This Spirit is the Spirit of unity because She brings forgiveness and reconciliation.  This Spirit is the Spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation because She begins with compassion, as we are reminded on this Sunday named “Divine Mercy Sunday.”


My brothers and sisters, our world, country and church, so broken and divided, -- as I have mentioned numerous times, -- needs this Spirit of unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and compassion, if we are ever to enjoy the peace Jesus came to give us.  We hear powerful, sometimes strident, voices seeking to compel our allegiance or force us into “for” and “against” positions.  I know,  personally, that I get confused by the complexity of moral and legal principles. issues and domains.  But, I do know that if I am to see the face of Jesus in all this complexity, I must begin by looking for his wounds.  I may not, at first, recognize Jesus’ face, but, if, or when, I see his wounds in people’s bodies and souls, I need only to look up to see his face and look into his eyes.


Is that what happened for the community we read about in the Acts of the Apostles today?  They must have seen Jesus in each other to live with “one heart and mind.”  They must have seen his wounds to sacrifice so much so that “there was no needy person among them.”  Clearly, our risen Lord was among them!


Clearly, our risen Lord is here among us, too.  Clearly, the mission of this Church is to foster peace as it seeks union of hearts among its members, and forgiveness and reconciliation for all.  And clearly, this community is a community of proven compassion.  Jesus is surely among us and He continues to breathe the Holy Spirit into us to carry on, even further, his mission and our mission.  May we, therefore, recognize his presence in the Eucharist.  May we look at his face in one another.  And may we share more abundantly  his peace with our suffering world, country and church.


 Kenneth J. Hughes, S.J.

 Brighton, Mass. 



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