SUNDAY REFLECTION: SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C. (DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY)
In the year 2000 Our Holy Father Pope John Paul instituted a new feast, the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated for the first time in 2001 on the Second Sunday of Easter, today. It arises out of a series of apparitions which a Polish nun, Sr. Faustina, received. Sr. Faustina was born in Poland in 1905. When she was twenty years old she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy where she lived for the next thirteen years until her death on October 5th 1938. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1993 and canonized in 2000.
In April 1978 the Holy See in Rome permitted spread of this devotion. The one primarily responsible for the Holy See approving the authenticity of the apparitions was Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Cracow, later that year elevated as Pope. In 1981 Pope John Paul said his destined role was to bring the era of Divine Mercy into the world.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy and so we usually call today Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina was privileged to receive apparitions from Jesus emphasizing his mercy, and especially his mercy today. Jesus promised that those who go to Confession and receive Holy Communion today will receive not only forgiveness of their sins, but the total remission of all temporal punishment for their sins. It is like a second baptism, all sin and punishment is wiped out. Confession during the week beforehand is also acceptable. Our attitude should be one of total trust in Jesus’ Divine Mercy. Confession before today in preparation for this feast is also okay, Sister Faustina used to confess on Saturday. Jesus’ promise is recorded three times in the Diary of Saint Faustina, each time in a slightly different way. This is the first teaching from Jesus. Going to confession is not the only way to prepare ourselves for this feast. We are also to be merciful, to perform acts of mercy.
The Mercy of God
The theme of the ‘mercy of God’ runs throughout the Bible. God is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4). The Greek word ‘eleos’ means ‘mercy, compassion, pity, clemency’.
This feast of Divine Mercy reminds us of many parables taught by Jesus emphasizing God’s mercy. We remember the three beautiful parables of Luke 15. God is like a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go in search of the one lost one. God is like a woman who searches the entire house to find the coin she lost. God is like a father who comes out of the house to welcome back his prodigal son and who comes out of the house a second time to entice the elder son to come in and join in the party. Today God has thrown a party during which we can receive God’s infinite mercy. Let us to the party and receive God’s mercy.
Attributes of God’s Mercy
In this season of Easter, it is most fitting indeed for us to focus our attention of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, as in truth it was the boundless, enduring and ever-present love that God has for each and every one of us sinners and unworthy people, that has allowed Him to extend such a wonderful and gracious mercy towards us. He does not want us to be destroyed and annihilated because of our sinfulness, and therefore, wanted to give us another chance.
The Lord has shown us such great love and mercy, in reaching out to all of us, who are sinners and wicked, and He wants to heal us from all of our brokenness and unworthiness. He Himself showed us all throughout His life and ministry, in how He reached out to the worst of sinners, to those whom the rest of the community had dismissed as being hopeless and unworthy to be saved, like the tax collectors and prostitutes. And that was what the disciples in our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles had done, continuing the good works of the Lord’s merciful love, by ministering to the poor, the sick and the dying, providing them with both physical and spiritual care, and healing those who were sick by the virtue of the power granted to them by the Lord. And they ministered to the people in various places.
It is what all of us have also been called to do, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Himself and His disciples, in doing the works of mercy in our daily living. Our Lord promises many great blessings and graces for the merciful when He says, “Give, and it shall be given to you…; the measure you give to others is the measure that will be given to you” (Lk 6:38). “Do them good and lend to them, without any hope of return; then your reward will be a rich one, and you will be true sons of the Most High, generous like Him toward the thankless and unjust” (Lk 6:35). This, therefore, is the greatest reward a person can expect. We become sons of the Most High for being merciful to our fellowmen. We can boldly call God our Father since we come with aid to His children and our brothers.
Divine mercy obtains for us graces and light, cleanses us from our sins, guides us to the Sacrament of Penance, and saves our soul from death that is from eternal damnation
Many of us have not been able to show mercy in our own actions and deeds in life, especially because we acted in the manner as how St. Thomas the Apostle had done, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. St. Thomas has shown us all in our Gospel today, his lack of faith and doubt in the Lord’s resurrection, and he has always been the skeptical one, to the point of sarcastically commenting before the other disciples that the Lord was leading them all to their death when He was about to go to Jerusalem for His Passion.
And when the disciples saw the Lord and witnessed His resurrection, St. Thomas doubted and refused to believe the words of the other disciples, to the point that he publicly mentioned that he would not believe unless he was able to prove it by his own hands, that the Lord Jesus truly rose from the dead and not just an apparition or a ghost. He wanted to see if the One who appeared was truly the crucified Christ.
This is exactly what many of us are suffering from as well, this inability to have that genuine faith in God, in His love and in His mercy. Many completely do not trust in the mercy of God. They continue to feel the guilt of their pasts even after having confessed their sins. Today’s gospel calls for complete trust and faith in Jesus and His merciful heart.
A little boy named John and his sister Ijeoma stayed at their grandparents’ house for a week during the Christmas Holidays. John had just received a brand new catapult. However, John was not a good shot. His grandma called him in for supper. Frustrated, John took a shot at his grandma’s duck. However, this time he hit the duck in the head and killed it dead. John panicked. He took the duck’s corpse and hid it under a bush. His sister Ijeoma had watched the whole thing. Ijeoma said to him, “You would better do what I say or I will tell Grandma.” So, the next day after lunch, Grandma said, “Ijeoma, I need you to help with the dishes.” She responded, “John wants to do it.” Ijeoma looked at John and whispered, “Remember the duck.” The Following day, Grandpa said to the children, “Let’s go fishing at the pond.” Grandma said, “I need Ijeoma to help with supper.” Ijeoma said, “John wants to help.” She looked at John and whispered, “Remember the duck.” After a few days of being Ijeoma’s slave, doing chores, and obeying her every whim, he confessed to Grandma what he did. Grandma retorted, “Honey, I was standing at the window when you accidently shot the duck. I forgave you there and then. I was just wondering how long you were going to be Ijeoma’s slave. This is actually what the devil has been doing to us, we think that God will not forgive us again; we think God’s mercy is very far, from us, we then find it hard to confess our sins to Him, not knowing that He is expecting us to use the freedom He gave us to come back to him. It is then by the mercy of God that we are forgiven, transformed, and changed. If God has had mercy on you, remember you are a changed individual. Do not be enslaved by the Devil’s reminders of your past. Go and confess your sins to God. His mercy is great. Spread this mercy also by being merciful also to others.
God bless you.