In conjunction with this year’s parish focus on the Scripture of the Bible, the theme of this year’s celebration was decided as “… and God said…” Following this main theme, six sub-themes were also formulated. Our parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando was then given the task of sourcing appropriate Mass presiders to preach on each sub-theme. In doing so, he managed to encourage a Friar, a most senior retired priest, a young priest who recently returned from sabbatical leave, an Archbishop Emeritus and the Nuncio to come to CDM.
Much preparations were made to ensure that the feast day was another memorable one. A nine-day novena was started just before Easter to end on Divine Mercy Sunday. A large poster was displayed to show the parishioners the Mass schedule for the week leading up to the Divine Mercy Sunday. Invitations were also sent to the parishes in the diocese. In catering to the spiritual needs, the physical needs of the people coming for mass were also seen to. The BECs, Chinese, Indian, BM and Filipino Apostolates shared out the sponsorship of all the meals after each weekday Mass and Sunday breakfast. The parish catered dinner for all on Divine Mercy Sunday under two large tents.
On the Monday and Tuesday of the week, Fr Oliver Tham from the parish of the Church of the Risen Christ was the presider. He was given the task of preaching on the sub-themes of “… and God said, Do not be afraid.” and “… and God said, GO … and TELL.” In his first homily, he mentioned that the first words of Jesus after He had risen to two women were “Don’t be afraid”. Jesus had experienced all the types of suffering we have gone through and more. Besides the physical pains, He had suffered indifference, despair, discouragement, betrayal and disappointments. We should not be afraid to connect our wounds with Jesus and be proud of our Christian identity. This is because Jesus will always be with us. In his second homily, Fr Oliver emphasized that we need to recognize the glorified and risen Christ and go proclaim the Word of God. We need to remember that we are never alone and Jesus is always there on our journey, everyday of our lives.
Fr. Marshall Fernandez from the Church of St Michael, Kedah was the next presider. He was given the sub-themes of “… and God said … I did IT for you” and “… and God said … This is MY BODY… BROKEN for you”. In his homilies, he asked if we have met Jesus in our daily lives. If we have not, then we may not believe in God. Our God is an interpersonal God and unless we meet God personally we cannot grow. In this digital age, we must search for Him as we belong to the Emmanuel age of God with us. In doing so we must be a disciple of peace and live as Jesus wants us to live. We should practise the Divine Mercy in our lives everyday and then we will surely meet Jesus.
Fr Dominic Santhiyago of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Butterworth preached on the sub-theme “… and God said … I am the DIVINE MERCY.” He mentioned three things. Firstly, God is love. Secondly, God is kind and lastly God is in control. Jesus was hung on the cross not by the nails but by his love for us. When Simon asked Jesus how much he loved him, Jesus opened his hands to show his wounds. Many of us have experienced the love and kindness of God through others in our lives. Why then should we feel shy of showing kindness to others to reflect the Jesus in us. In this way we can let others experience Jesus too. We need to remember that all things are possible with God. He is in control. So, invite Jesus into your lives and let Him take control and show the kindness within us to others.
Fr Martin Arlando, celebrated mass on Saturday evening. In his homily on the sub-theme “…and God said … I AM the WORD Alive.” He gave over 20 quotations from the Bible on the Word of God. He showed the various instances when the Word of God was important in our lives and how it fits into many aspects of our lives. “It is a double-edged sword … is fire burning in my heart “(Jeremiah 20:9). “… like food … “Matthew 4:4) “… a mirror …” (James1:23-24) “… cleansing…” (Ephesians 5:25-27). He emphasized that we need the Word of God as nourishment to grow. The Word needs to be taken and digested (Jeremiah 15:16) as it is alive (John 1:1). We need it as it nourishes and matures our spiritual life. It helps us stand strong against all spiritual attacks on our faith and helps us recognize the truth from lies. He said that it is the Holy Spirit that instructs the Word of God and that we should invoke the help of the Holy Spirit as we read scripture. When we find it hard to know the Word of God due to the demands of family and friends that tax us mentally and physically, we should seek a “break through” instead of suffering a “breakdown”. It is the time to pray the problem and pray the solution from the Word of God. For everything will be revealed through the Word of God if we are not too occupied or open to notice. We will experience the Divine Mercy in us as the Word of God is alive in our lives.
Archbishop Emeritus John Ha gave his homily on the sub-theme “… and God said … I AM the WORD Alive”. He began by saying that “Seeing” and “Believing” are two key words in the gospel that reflects the attitude of Thomas the apostle who insisted on seeing and touching the wounds of Jesus before believing. Seeing is not in the order of faith. It is not required. Faith comes into play when the reality is not visible. The Divine Mercy had existed at the beginning of time when God created man. Even though they betrayed Him, He continued to relate with them. When God promised a solution to them, the Divine Mercy began. God’s word had the power to bring that salvation into reality and it has proceeded throughout the ages through Jesus Christ. Our sin brought about death for us but Jesus took our place to pay that penalty with His Divine Mercy. Our sins were taken away and the resurrection brought eternal life to us. A share of this life with God. But do we see it or do we do want to be like Thomas as we cannot see that faith is required. We need that faith in Jesus as He is the Word of God in our midst. But St James has said that faith alone is not enough. We also need good works to keep our faith alive. So, we need to share this Divine Mercy with others with the help of the Holy Spirit. And with our forgiveness of others, we are reconciled with God to reflect the Divine Mercy in our lives.
In his Homily in the afternoon mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Marino explained that the work of Jesus after his death was continued by his commands in his apparitions after he had risen. He breathed on his apostles and established the Church by saying, “As the Father sent me, I now send you.” To continue his work of touching people by forgiving sins, feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful and healing the wounds of division. He sent them to continue his Word which is the face of mercy. The Church today is empowered by the Holy Spirit through the incarnation of Jesus in the Word of God and his Mercy. Mercy is the very foundation of Jesus who has an endless desire to show mercy. It is the message that sustains our work in the Church to do concrete works of charity. This is our primary mission. Our faith is active and we need to show concrete activities of mercy. To reach out to the marginalized and reinstate them. Whenever Jesus was asked to heal anyone in the Bible, we hear that Jesus was moved by compassion before he performed the healing miracle. This was because he felt the pain and suffering of the person. In the same way, it not the way of the Church to condemn but seek out those who are marginalized with compassion and restore their humanity within the community. Pope Francis has even said that the sign of a Christian in our world today is how we live with Mercy. The Nuncio ended by asking the parishioners to be a community of Mercy and be one with Jesus who is the face of mercy.
At the end of the weekend masses the parishioners were treated to a dance performed by the Youth Ministry on “Proclaiming the Word of God”. The audience were pleasantly surprised when Fr Martin joined in the last part of the dance to hold high the Bible.
A procession was carried out at the end of the 3 pm mass. It was led by the Nuncio who carried the monstrance with the consecrated host on a 1.2 km walk around the neighbourhood of Sungai Ara. He was assisted in turn by Fr Francis Anthony, Fr Joachim Robert and Fr Martin Arlando. They followed the flower adorned statue of the Divine Mercy carried by parishioners and pilgrims as they recited the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. After the procession and Benediction there was the veneration of the relics of St Faustina and St Pope John Paul II. All who attended these proceedings were invited for an early dinner as many pilgrims from Ipoh and other outstation places had to journey back home after the celebrations.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
16th April, 2018.