We Celebrate Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

We celebrate today the feast of God’s Mercy. God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, by sending His only begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by His suffering, death, and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, which were instituted to sanctify us.

Our Easter celebration, from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday through the Triduum to the glorious triumph of Christ over sin and death on Easter morning, and indeed through the whole Easter season – it’s all about the Divine Mercy of God. Through God’s mercy, Christ came forth to ransom us and bring us to salvation and our redemption from sin through the Cross of Christ involves the revelation of mercy in its fullness.

The theme of God’s mercy flows throughout today’s readings. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts how God continued to show his Divine Mercy by the healing power bestowed on the apostles through the Holy Spirit. Just as during Jesus’ earthly ministry God’s mercy was made known through the signs and wonders he worked for those in pain and distress, His Divine Mercy continued to be manifested to the early Church through the similar signs and wonders worked by the apostles – signs and wonders meant to strengthen the faith and bring others to believe.

Today’s second reading from the book Revelations reminds us that Christ is with us always, that his people are surrounded by Christ’s mercy at all times, and especially during times of distress and tribulation. Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives.

In today’s Gospel from John, we hear about Christ coming among his dispirited disciples behind locked doors on the evening of Easter. He bestowed on them the Holy Spirit, breathing into them a new life much as God-breathed original life into Adam in the Genesis creation story. Christ commissions his newly created apostles to go out and convert the world – “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He sends them out to continue His ministry of love, forgiveness, and mercy to all the world. In His commissioning, Jesus also institutes what we now call the Sacrament of Reconciliation – “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” – clearly a Sacrament manifesting the Divine Mercy of God.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil – the Triduum we celebrated just last weekend – those are the three great days of grace – of the Divine Mercy bestowed on each of us through God’s great love. But the gift of Divine Mercy, the unconditional love of God, extends beyond the season of Easter. It’s manifested not just in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but in ALL the Sacraments.

The depth of God’s love for us is manifest in the outstretched arms of Christ on the Cross, and He’s calling us to partake of His mercy. But the gift of Divine Mercy is a gift meant for sharing. As we continue our Easter journey, let us embrace and share the great gift of Divine Mercy won for us by our Savior. Let us become the apostles we have been called to be. Yes, the second Sunday of Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for us. We must show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere.

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