(Homily for Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday)

Bottom line: Rising from the dead, Jesus gave us a ministry of reconciliation.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he said to the apostles, "Peace with you." Then he breathed the Holy Spirit on them, saying, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them." This refers to the Sacrament of Reconciliation - and to the entire ministry of reconciliation. I would like to tell you about a reconciliation that happened here at Holy Family.

Many of you know that a group of parishioners prays before the Planned Parenthood clinic every Friday morning. We pray for our Church, our society, for those tempted by abortion, for the conversion of those who work in the abortion industry and for our own conversion. Most of the people who drive by take little notice. Some wave or smile. Others give gestures of disapproval - but everyone respects our right to publicly pray and voice our concern.

Well, almost everybody. Last summer a young man drove his pick-up out of the Safeway parking lot, narrowly missing a member of the group. On following Fridays he started driving up on the curb, crushing one of the signs. We tried to get his license plate number, but each time he sped away. Finally, last November he came by with a young passenger in his car and again drove up on the sidewalk. That time we got his license number and called the police. The deputy came, took the report and then went to the man's home. It turned out the young passenger was the man's son. He said, "Dad, why did you do that?" The man realized what a terrible example he was giving - and asked if he could apologize.

At first I did not want his apology. The man had committed the crime of vehicular assault and property destruction. Moreover, children were in our group when he assaulted us. But when I talked to group members, they said, "yes," they would like to receive his apology. One of the moms with us said, "Oh, I have been praying for him - that he would be converted."

It took some doing, but I finally got the meeting set up with the deputy, the young man and five others from our group. Somewhat nervous, I read of summary of what the man had done - including the time he drove by and pointed a gun at us. (It turned out to be a water pistol - still, it was disturbing.) When I finished, I asked his response. He told us he was sorry and ashamed - and then talked about how his explosions of anger had caused problems in his life: with his girl friend, his son and, he added, "even with my dog." We of course smiled at that. Then we went around the table and gave each person a chance to say something. One of the group - a former monk - spoke about how this could be a moment of grace and new beginning. When everyone finished, I said that we wanted to bring this to a conclusion, but first we would like him to make restitution for the signs he had damaged. He took forty dollars from his wallet and gave it to us. At the end of the meeting, each person shook the young man's hand.

The sheriff's deputy told us that he had been a police officer for twenty-five years and that maybe he had become a bit jaded, but that was the first time he had seen a case resolved in that way. Again the former monk spoke, "I think the Bible says something about that."

Indeed it does. The most basic job Jesus gives us is the ministry of reconciliation. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.


Spanish Version

From Archives:

2014 Homily: Journey to Hope Week 2
2013: Overcoming Fear - A Titanic Hero
2012: Divine Mercy in a Time of Crisis
2011: His Mercy Endures
2010: Believing Is Seeing
2009: The Eighth Day
2008: Reconciliation
2007: A Drop in the Ocean
2006: Mercy in Action
2005: The Grandeur of God
2004: God Loves Honest Skeptics
2003: The Truth Is Out There
2002: Divine Mercy
2001: Doubting The Doubts
2000: A Requisite for Faith
1999: Neither Gullible nor Rigid
1998: Be Not Afraid!
1997: Room for Doubt

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