My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
First of all, today we especially give thanks to God for his beautiful gift to us this week, our new Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — Monsignor Marc Trudeau, now Bishop-elect Marc Trudeau, who probably many of you know because he was assigned here at the Cathedral for a number of years.
So I want to ask all of you especially to keep our Bishop-elect in your prayers as he prepares for his ordination, which will be celebrated here at the cathedral on June 7th.
So please pray for him! He needs a lot of prayers these days.
It is a great blessing for all of us — he’s been a wonderful priest and I think he will be a really great and holy bishop.
So, today is always a day of joy for all of us, because we have our RCIA Candidates here to be received into full communion with the Church and received the Sacraments of Confirmation and also the Eucharist.
So, my dear candidates, I want to welcome all of you for this special moment in your lives. It is a special day for all of you, as you enter into the fullness of the family of God in the Catholic Church.
In our second reading today, St. John gives us these beautiful words that I think are special for all of you, dear candidates: “Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.”
This is who you are, my brothers and sisters! You are begotten by God. Children of God. What an amazing gift to be God’s children, his sons and daughters. This is, in a sense, your “new identity,” your true identity.
God loves you as his own. Never forget that. And he has great things he wants you to do with your lives.
So I hope that you always remember this beautiful day, and especially that, as St. John says, that we are “beloved children of God.”
Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday. And as I’m sure that you all noticed the drama in today’s Gospel is centered on the wounds of Jesus — the holes in his hands from the nails that held him on the Cross; the wound in his side where his heart was pierced.
We heard those familiar words today from the apostle Thomas:
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nail marks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
And I think this is why St. John Paul II declared this Sunday after Easter to be “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Because God’s mercy flows into the world and into our personal lives through these sacred wounds, which are the source of the Church’s sacraments.
As we probably know, St. John Paul II was influenced by St. Faustina Kowalska, who had a vision and asked for a painting of the Risen Jesus, — just like the one that we have over here — with rays of light flowing out of his wounded side — like the blood and water that flowed from his heart on the Cross. It’s a beautiful painting of Jesus showing us God’s divine mercy.
So today, my dear brothers and sisters, like the Apostle Thomas, we are invited today to enter into that personal encounter with the mystery of God’s mercy and his love for each one of us.
And those sacred wounds that Jesus suffered tell us a story. In these wounds, we see how much he loves us, how important we are to God.
And when we really understand this — when we know what he has done for us, then we can say, as St. Thomas did, My Lord and My God.
It’s true. God — Jesus the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity — suffered that for you and for me.
My Lord and My God.
And then if we understand that, it also makes sense that we understand that Easter does not end — it continues in history, in your life and mine! The Risen Lord is alive and he is present in our midst — just as he came to that upper room with his apostles.
As I said, when we believe in Jesus and enter into his life in Baptism — we are “begotten by God,” we become “children of God.”
And Jesus gives us today, the same mission that he gave to his disciples. He says to us what he said to them:
As the Father has sent me, so I send you …
Jesus is sending us out into the world — into our homes, into the places where we work; into all our conversations and encounters with other people.
Jesus is calling each one of us once again in this Easter season — as we celebrate his Resurrection — to share his love and mercy and to do it in a normal, ordinary practical way in our everyday lives. He is calling us to be his “witnesses,” as he called the apostles to be his witnesses too.
In that first reading of today’s Mass, we heard about the first Christians:
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
This is the mission of the children of God, of those begotten by God. This is the mission that Jesus entrusts to each of us. To bear witness to his resurrection.
That he’s alive! That he’s among us! That we can have relationship with him! That he cares about us! And that he wants us to have joy and happiness!
But the challenge that we have is that, in our daily life, we need to show people how Jesus is alive in our hearts! We need to show people how he transforms our actions, our whole approach to living.
The way that we see things, the way that we do things need to reflect the Resurrection and the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
So this is what Jesus is sending us into the world to do.
So today, let us go out, once again, with that good resolution — with the courage of those first apostles — and live our lives as Christians, Catholics. The very witness to the power of this Resurrection.
Finally, just two pieces of advice from today’s celebration. First, as we heard Jesus greeting the apostles, every time, saying: “Peace be with you.”
Let us ask for the grace to be men and women of peace — then we will have peace in our families and in our society.
And then a second piece of advice, let us remember to say the prayer that St. Faustina used to say: “Jesus, I trust in you!”
It is a simple, beautiful prayer. And this is the way we should all live as children of God, with total trust in our loving God.
Jesus, I trust in you!
And my dear Candidates, you have our prayers as you continue your journey now with the company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now, you have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And those gifts — those seven gifts — are going to help you to make the right decisions in life. With an act of faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to respond to Christ’s call to each one of you.
To really be witnesses of his Resurrection.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, continue to walk with all of us and help us to trust in Jesus and to be witnesses to his mercy in our lives.
1. Readings: Acts 4:32-35; Ps. 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31.