Mass for the Sunday of Divine Mercy in Gethsemane
JERUSALEM – On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2016, Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, celebrated a solemn Mass in the Basilica of the Agony at Gethsemane.
Saint John Paul II established the Feast of Divine Mercy in the year 2000 and designated the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a feastday, desired by Pope Francis, that is particularly important in the Year of Mercy. Usually celebrated in the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate, the Mass was celebrated this year in Gethsemane, giving the faithful a further opportunity to pass through the Door of Mercy, solemnly opened at the beginning of the Jubilee Year by Patriarch Fouad Twal.
The Divine Mercy Sunday Mass was preceded by an hour of adoration during which the faithful recited the Chaplet of Mercy in French, Arabic, English, Polish and Italian. Many priests were available to minister the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those who wanted it.
The Mass began with sound of the refrain “Misericordes sicut Pater” sung by the Magnificat Choir. At the side of Bishop Shomali, stood Bishop Mtumbuka, Ordinary of the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi and the Custodial Vicar, Father Dobromir Jasztal.
In his homily, Father Michael McDonagh called on the assembly to look at the Mercy from two perspectives: first that of God and that of man. Quoting Exodus “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin, yet not declaring the guilty guiltless (…)” (Ex 34: 6-7), he explained how, in God, mercy and justice are combined. Mercy and Justice are God’s nature. In humans they are separate virtures and must be practiced. God’s justice is a restorative justice that restores the sinner, and not a condemnatory justice. He punishes out of His Mercy in order to restore the sinner. His Mercy and Justice are inseparable. He then looked at mercy from the perspective of the man with the word of the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5: 7), inviting us to be merciful as the Father. He emphasized that mercy is a gift, a grace, “blessing both the giver and the receiver.”
The mass was offered for peace in the world, and especially for peace and justice in the Holy Land and the Middle East. Before the final blessing, Bishop Shomali invited the assembly to join him in consecrating the Holy Land and countries of Middle East, imploring the Lord to protect this land and its inhabitants.
Calixte des Lauriers