Thursday, March 31, 2016

Second Sunday of Easter Year C

Readings: Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 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. 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, God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

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 Jesus gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit the principle of peace, God’s mercy, 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, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. The message was nothing new, but a reminder of what the Church had always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show God’s mercy and forgiveness. In the Divine Mercy devotion however, the message takes on a powerful new focus namely, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love and mercy is unlimited and available to everyone — especially those struggling with great sinfulness. The message of mercy is simple: God loves us — all of us —no matter how great our sins when we repent. God wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. The message of Divine Mercy is threefold: 1) Ask for God’s Mercy. God wants us to approach him in prayer constantly, humbly repenting of our sins and asking for the outpouring his mercy upon us and upon the whole world. 2) Be merciful to others. God wants us to receive his mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend merciful forgiveness to others just as he does to us. 3) Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the more we trust in Jesus Christ, the more we will receive his mercy. In brief, God’s name is Mercy!  The message of this Sunday may therefore be summed up in three points: 1) 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) Since receiving God’s Mercy is not cheap, we are called to a painful conversion experience, so that God’s mercy and compassion may touch us and transform us. 3) Just as the Father sends the risen Lord Jesus to share the grace of Divine Mercy with us, we too are sent as instruments of peace, God’s mercy and forgiveness to those who have been hurt and wounded, and so lead them to healing and reconciliation.

©2016 John S. Mbinda

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