Merciful like the Father.
Merciful like the Son.
“All of our past sins against God and one another have been nailed to the cross; so now is the time for us to practice the mercy we have received,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight proclaimed in his homily for this year’s Easter Vigil in the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
He described a polished stone inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which stands where Jesus died and was buried in the Holy Land.
People from all over the world visit the ancient church and venerate the place where Jesus’s body was prepared for burial after He died on the cross.
“These devotional people are expressing outwardly their noted desire to tend to the body of the Lord today,” Bishop McKnight stated.
While this in itself is a laudable and holy act, people needn’t travel all the way to the Holy Land to show reverence for Jesus’s wounded, bleeding body.
For one thing, they can show piety and devotion in Eucharistic Adoration and receive the Holy Eucharist with proper preparation, reverence and prayers of thanksgiving.
And they must do more.
“Our sacramental expressions, as important as they are, do not replace our obligations as Christians to be agents of mercy by tending to the body of the Lord that still suffers and is in need of anointing here among us,” Bishop McKnight pointed out.
The bishop pointed to the women who comforted Jesus before His passion and death and who returned on Easter Sunday morning to anoint Him properly for burial.
These are Corporal Works of Mercy.
Because Jesus identified Himself with the poor and the outcast, with sinners and those who mourn, “we have the opportunity to do as the holy women did whenever we tend to the lowly, the outcast, the impoverished, the sick and neglected, and the poor in spirit,” said Bishop McKnight.
One of the three priorities outlined in the diocese’s recently promulgated pastoral plan is for parishes — and consequently, individual Catholics, families and the diocese — to be universally recognized centers of charity and sanctuaries of mercy.
This is important because all people are somehow wounded and in need of God’s healing, redemption and mercy.
“And we all need a compassionate Church,” Bishop McKnight asserted. “Even now, the light of God’s mercy is given to us through the preaching of Christ’s Gospel, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in the communal life of the Church where we support and tend each other.
“Our lives are different because of the mercy we have experienced in the Church!” he said.
Jesus’s resurrection rescues people from slavery to sin and the shadow of death, freeing them “to walk upright in the new life of God’s light of mercy with our fellow brothers and sisters in baptism.”
“This Easter, I pray that you and your families may find your own ways to be agents of Christ’s mercy to help your domestic church and your parish to be the centers of charity and sanctuaries of mercy we are called to be,” the bishop stated.
To read the diocesan pastoral plan, titled “A Steward’s Journey: Our Call to Greater Communion,” visit diojeffcity.org/pastoral-plan.