2nd Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today, we celebrate the Sunday of Divine Mercy. Saint John Paul II instituted this feast for the entire Church in the year 2000. During the homily of the Mass for the canonization of Saint Faustina, the pontiff declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’” The holy Pope also said: “The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me […] which I took with me to the See of Peter and […] in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate.”

Our God is a “God of everlasting mercy” (Collect). Three times, today’s psalm proclaims: “His mercy endures forever” (Ps 118).

God’s Mercy transforms fear into peace. In today’s second reading, Saint John says: “When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid’” (Rev 1:17). In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the frightened and fearful apostles. The doors were locked but Jesus appeared to them and said: “Peace be with you.” God’s presence brings peace to our hearts.

Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit to the apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” (Jn 20:23). The Spirit of God transforms the apostles in instruments of the Divine Mercy. Through sacramental confession, God’s right hand touches us and tells us through the voice of the priest: “Do not be afraid, your sins are forgiven.” As we receive God’s absolution, peace is restored in our hearts.

As priests, we have the special grace of being witnesses to the greatness of the mercy of the Lord! On so many occasions, the words of the psalm come to mind: “His mercy endures forever.” We are nothing and we are sinners, but Christ chose us to be instruments of his infinite mercy!

In the second reading, Saint John says: “I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man” (Rev 1:13). The lampstands are symbols of the Church, where Jesus is present.

After the resurrection, Jesus is present in a hidden way. He once said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). We do not see him but we can recognize his gentle presence that brings peace to our hearts. Today’s first reading describes the experience of the early Church with these words: “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles” (Act 5:12). The signs and wonders they witnessed were confirmation that the Risen Christ was among them.

We do not see him but we believe that he is present: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29). We have already experienced the power of his mercy in our lives. We trust in Jesus because we “have life in his name.” Our hearts are filled with gratitude because God’s mercy embraces us: “I was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped me. My strength and my courage is the Lord” (Ps 118).

In the words of today’s psalm refrain, we say: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.”  Amen.

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