Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Second of Easter), Year C
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 (1)
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
April 24, 2022
It is not always easy to follow God. We see this with the prophets in the Old Testament. For example, in 1 Kings 19, Elijah flees and hides in a cave when Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab tries to have him killed. God comes to Elijah in his fear.
Now Jesus has been crucified. His disciples fear the Jews will do the same to them. So, they are gathered behind locked doors.
In their fear, “Jesus came and stood in their midst.” Why? Because He knew they were afraid and needed assurance. He said to them, “Peace with you.” His coming to them was an act of Divine Mercy.
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter. In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared this to always be Divine Mercy Sunday.
When we think of God’s mercy, we might often think of God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is a key part of his Divine Mercy. Thus, Jesus “breathed on them” and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus gave the power to forgive sins to his disciples and to priests today so that we may experience his forgiveness.
We need God’s forgiveness but his mercy is more than forgiveness. He comes to his disciples in the locked room in Divine Mercy. He offers them peace three times.
The first time Jesus came to them in the locked room, Thomas was not there. When he hears what has happened, Thomas does not believe. He says he needs to see for himself. Would we have been any different? After all, no one had risen from the dead before.
Jesus does not reject Thomas for his weak belief. A week later, Jesus returns. This time Thomas is there. Jesus speaks directly to Thomas. Why? Because, rooted in his Divine Mercy, Jesus wants Thomas to believe as He said, “do not be unbelieving but believe.”
Thomas’ response? He says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas now believes.
Do we believe?
At times our faith is weak. We pray it grows over time. It doesn’t always happen all at once. The other disciples had already seen Jesus on the evening of his Resurrection when He came to them in a locked room. Where are they a week later? In a locked room.
Jesus sends them out just as the Father had sent him. How does this go for them? In our reading from Revelation, John says he found himself “on the island called Patmos.” Patmos is a Roman penal colony. John is there because he “proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus.”
There he had a vision where the Lord says to him, “Do not be afraid.”
God had come to Elijah in his fear. God came to the disciples in the locked room in their fear. God speaks to John in his difficult moment. This is God’s Divine Mercy. “His mercy endures forever.”
God will empower the Apostles to do “many signs and wonders.” These would have been acts of mercy to those who were ill and possessed. They are also acts of divine mercy in revealing God’s mercy to the rest of us.
The message of Divine Mercy was offered to Sr. Faustina in Poland in the 1930’s. There she received the Divine Mercy Image, Chaplet, and novena. However, the message of Divine Mercy was not new.
God has always been merciful. I think of Bible passages like Luke 6:36 where Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful.”
What is the most direct expression of God’s mercy? Jesus’ Crucifixion for as Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). This is exactly what Jesus does for us.
However, Jesus does many acts of mercy. He feeds the multitudes. He cares for the sick. These are the Corporal Works of Mercy that Jesus himself presents to us in Matthew 25:31-46. There are also Spiritual Works of Mercy like instructing the ignorant and admonishing sinners given throughout scripture (See my presentation, The Journey to Jesus, Acts of Mercy – http://www.renewaloffaith.org/video—the-journey-to-jesus–acts-of-mercy.html ).
If we are to be merciful like our Father, we need to do acts of mercy. We are not to do them simply so we can receive mercy ourselves. We are to do acts of mercy as acts of love.
We need God’s Divine Mercy. In his perfect love that endures forever, He is merciful to us. May we share the mercy we receive with others.