SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today describes the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Apostolic Church as thousands of people became converts.
Through belief in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, many signs and wonders occurred among the people. We are told of a crippled man at the “Beautiful gate of the Temple” being cured in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are told that the houses in which the faithful and the Apostles gathered to pray, shook, and those Christians were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Word of God boldly.
The sick were brought into the street so that the shadow of Peter might fall on them as he passed, so that they would be cured. A dead woman – Tabatha – was brought back to life by Peter – in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It would have been exciting to have lived in those apostolic days so that we could have seen the Risen Lord, or at least to have seen Peter work a few miracles. It would have been so much easier to believe; yet as Jesus appears in the Gospel today, He tells Thomas:
“Thomas, have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jesus was talking about us – we too can be filled with deep faith and peace as were those first followers of Jesus!
Today the Church throughout the world celebrates “Divine Mercy Sunday”. When this Feast was established, Saint John Paul II described “Divine Mercy Sunday” saying: “In a special way, it is a Sunday of Thanksgiving for all the Goodness that God has shown us in the whole Easter mystery.”
Divine Mercy Sunday is the summary of all the events of Holy Week focusing on the light of the Risen Lord into a beam of merciful love and grace for the whole world. This Feast of Divine Mercy celebrates the abundance of grace available to us through our Lord’s victory over sin, death and the Evil One.
Divine Mercy Sunday has its roots in the Octave Day of Easter. St. Augustine called the Sunday after Easter “A day of mercy and pardon”.
The forgiveness of Thomas in today’s Gospel, is the sign of Jesus’ Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord: forgave Thomas of his lack of trust and belief, and gave him new hope and new life.
The forgiveness and mercy of the Risen Lord were total and complete. “You believed Thomas, because you have seen me; but more blessed are those people of Marietta who have not seen and yet believe”.
“Divine Mercy” fills the Scripture Readings of today’s Mass. “Divine Mercy” lies behind those encouraging words of Jesus, spoken to His disciples on that first Easter evening which are recorded in today’s Gospel: “Peace be with you.” The Risen Lord brought peace to His apostles that day, just as He wants to bring peace to us today.
We are called upon today to be a sign to the world of our faith and our commitment to Jesus Christ – just as the First followers of the Apostolic Church were. God offers us the same life, mercy, and forgiveness that He offered to the Apostolic Church through the celebration of the sacraments.
Today as we recall Jesus’ appearance to the disciples on that first Easter evening, we are very much reminded of the Sacrament of Confession – the Sacrament of Divine Mercy. Today in the Gospel, we discover a merciful Lord giving the Church the power to forgive sins to His apostles and to their succors. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn.20-23).
Each of us needs this “Divine Mercy Sunday” to remind us of all that God has done, and continues to do, through His Church to Love and save us. The Church needs “Mercy Sunday” to remind us that Christ does not abandon us. Instead, the light of His love and mercy coming from His Sacred Heart, scatters the darkness and reminds us that it is in suffering that we are purified – it is in suffering that we find our strength and it is in suffering that we rise to new and more abundant life.
“Divine Mercy Sunday” brings our Lord’s promise of “oceans of graces” to each us. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is at the heart of the Gospel and the root of this present “Holy Year of Mercy”. The message is simple yet profound – “God is merciful” – He is Love and Mercy itself. May each of us always experience that mercy.