Of Rooms and Shadows. Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

Look at St. Peter in the upper room in the Gospel reading today. He was terrified, cowardly, embarrassed, confused, ashamed, HIDING IN THE SHADOWS. Then look at St. Peter in the First Reading. He is bold, confident, facing down religious authorities, breaking out of prisons, CASTING SHADOWS THAT ARE HEALING PEOPLE

Why the difference?

The answer has to do with another question:

When you look at the Eucharistic Host, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS?

  • A cookie?
  • A wafer made out of flour and water?
  • A piece of blessed bread?
  • An encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction?

It is interesting to note what is said in the Bible about shadows:

Faith: Acts 5:12-16 – Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them

Protection: Psalm 57:1 – Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by

Trustworthiness: James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change

Mercy: Luke 1:67- In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell  in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Comfort and Joy: Psalm 63:7 – For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy

Hope: Luke 1:78-79 – In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The Eucharist is about the Resurrection of Christ. Without belief in the resurrection, the host is just the cookie or just a piece of blessed bread. How do I know this? From children’s confessions. They come and say, “I should have attended Mass more often. I wanted to say to them that they had no culpability in this case. Ask their parents to stop by so I could speak with them. Unfortunately I couldn’t say that to the children for two reasons. (1) It would put their parents in a bad light in the eyes of the child. That would be a sin against charity. It would also be breaking the Seal of Confession. But let me put a fine point on this. Jesus said, “It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.“ (Luke 17:2; Matthew 18:6)

First Communions is nice. It’s a cause for great celebration. Are you going to be here next week? The week after that? When it’s inconvenient?

What do you think that this host is?

Like the disciples, next week you’re going to be in “A” room.   Which room will you be in? Like the disciples you will be in the room addicted, afflicted, angry or anxious. Will you be in “this” room at St. Monica or in another room?

In one room, you will be by yourself and with others.

In THIS room you’re with Him – under the grace-filled shadow of his outstretched arms.


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