Our Image of Jesus (Homily 4.28.2019)

My brothers and sisters, when you look at Jesus on the cross, what image comes to your mind?  Is your image one that is welcoming, merciful, redeeming? Or is your image one of harsh judgment, abandonment, and condemnation?

Examples of the consequences of the image that we hold about Jesus. Mary of Magdala’s image of Jesus. She went to the tomb where Jesus was buried in the darkness of the early morning.”[1] She knew that if caught, she could be imprisoned or worse. However, the healing she experienced through him gave her an image of a protecting God to whom she confidently said: “Jesus, I trust in you.” In him, she found the courage to leave early in the morning to worship him despite the dangers. [2]

Contrast Mary of Magdala’s boldness against the disciples’ retreat and anxiety while locked in the room.  Though no one would blame them for hiding, their image of Jesus was one of abandonment and doubt. For years they had witnessed Jesus’ merciful acts. However, it was when Jesus showed them his resurrected body that their anxiety turned into peace, and their retreat turned into a refuge.

At times, our humanity prevents us from seeing on the cross a Jesus who we can trust. Like the disciples, when faced with trials and despair, we forget Jesus’ promise of mercy and instead rely on our own powers. But Jesus wants to give his divine mercy to all even to those who must see before they believe.  But, he has a special place in his heart for those who believe in him without seeing. Therefore, it is not surprising that he commissioned St. Faustina with “the great mission to proclaim His message of mercy,” which we celebrate today. She was a woman of unlimited trust in the Lord.

We live in a world in need of mercy more than ever. Unfortunately, our personal reliance on ourselves gives us the false image that we do not mercy, nor do we need to be merciful to others.  As St. John Paul II stated in his encyclical Rich in Mercy:

“The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy.[3]

Yet in his divine mercy, Jesus left us the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist through which to receive his mercy. As you prepare to receive the Eucharist and the next time you confess your sins in reconciliation, I invite to open your heart to an image of Jesus as welcoming, merciful and redeeming and to declare to him: “Jesus, I trust in you.”

May God’s Divine mercy be with you always!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

[1] John 20:1

[2] Cf. John 8:2

[3] http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_30111980_dives-in-misericordia.html (2)

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