The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today describes a peaceful, idyllic community of believers who were of “one heart and one mind”. Life in the early Church was characterized by a close community life so that belief in Jesus and membership in the Church was possible only in and through life lived in a Community of Faith.

The mark of that life was the love and concern that people had for one another, and the peace that had come to them because of the mercy and forgiveness of the Risen Lord.

When a convert came into the Community, he or she placed prosperity and wealth at the feet of the Apostles so that the money could be used for the common good of the various members of the Community. The lives of the first Christians were committed to the Risen Lord and to the work of His Church.

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 the Christians were praying, 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 upon 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 live in those days; to see the Risen Lord, or at least to have seen Peter work a few miracles. Yet in the Gospel today, Jesus tells Thomas:”You became a believer Thomas, because you see me. Blest are they who have not seen and believe.”Jesus is talking about us – we too can be filled with light happiness and peace as were the first to follow Jesus!

Today the Church throughout the world celebrates “Divine Mercy Sunday”. When this Feast was established by Pope Saint John Paul II. He described “Divine Mercy Sunday” when he said: “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 calls the octave of Easter “A day of mercy and pardon”.  We are called upon today to be a sign to the world (as were the people of the Apostolic Church in their time) of our faith and our commitment to Jesus Christ.

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 find 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 “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” for each of us. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is at the heart of the Gospel. The message is simple yet profound – “God is merciful – He is Love and Mercy itself. May each of us always experience that mercy.