Sunday, April 20, 2014

Second Sunday of Easter Year A

Second Sunday of Easter Year A
Readings: Acts 2:42-47; I Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Peace, forgiveness and reconciliation are some of the key words underlying the message of this Sunday. The Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Indeed the Gospel reading leads us to discover the meaning of God’s mercy. After Jesus rose from the dead, He appears to his disciples once again. On that occasion Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them." (Jn 20:22) In other words, Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit who would accompany them in their mission of bringing about peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. This Sunday bears greater significance because of the canonization of two Popes: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. As many of you will recall, Pope John Paul II was very instrumental in promoting devotion to Divine Mercy on the occasion of the canonization of Blessed Faustina, on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 30 2000. Pope John Paul II beatified 1,338 people and canonized 482 -- more than all his predecessors combined. The canonization of Pope John Paul II just 9 years after his death in 2005 indicates the genuineness of his journey in perfection.

The readings on this Sunday set the tone for the entire Easter season. Their purpose is to continue helping the newly baptized towards growth in the mystery of Christ, who is now risen and in our midst. The readings therefore provide a meditation on the mystery of the resurrection and our own incorporation into that mystery through our initiation. In the Gospel, the risen Lord appears again to the gathered apostles. On this occasion He gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit the principle of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. The focus of that event may be interpreted in terms Christ revealing God’s Divine Mercy. What is Divine Mercy? From the diary of St. Faustina, the message is nothing new, but a reminder of what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful, forgiving and that we too must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners. The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —no matter how great our sins when we repent. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins. The message of Divine Mercy is threefold: 1) Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world. 2) Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. 3) Have completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. In brief, God’s name is Mercy!  The message of this Sunday may therefore be summed up in three points: 1) Today we affirm our faith in the Risen Lord who channels the greatest gift: the grace of God's Divine Mercy, won for us by the blood of Christ on the Cross and the resurrection. 2) Many Christians have discovered that God’s Mercy is not cheap. They had to struggle through a painful conversion experience and repentance. On this Sunday we are called to a conversion experience so that God’s mercy and compassion may touch us deeply. 3) Just as the Father sends Jesus to share the grace of Divine Mercy with all of us, we too are sent to be instruments of peace, forgiveness, and God’s compassion and mercy. 

©2014 John S. Mbinda

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