We follow the ancient tradition of celebrating Easter for 8 consecutive days. The octave of Easter ends with today’s celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday (the 2nd Sunday of Easter). The Christ that St. Faustina saw was the Risen Christ – so fittingly today’s feast is part of the octave of Easter.
We celebrate today why Jesus rose from the dead – to pour out upon us his mercy! Our gospel today speaks to us about mission, forgiveness and faith. The Risen Lord appears to his followers saying: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” As Jesus commissioned his followers to continue his saving work, so he does the same to us.
In giving the Holy Spirit to his disciples, they receive a specific power for reconciliation. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Just as Jesus forgave sins while he walked this earth, so in the Spirit, he gives the same power to his followers. Fresh in our minds is the celebration of the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the priesthood, where he shares his power with his apostles. In our present day, ordained priests stand: ”in persona Christi” every time we go to Confession and receive the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Jesus tells St. Faustina (Diary 742): “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy towards your neighbor: the first – by deed, the second – by word, the third – by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for me…so even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.” Here again we see how Jesus connects mission with faith and mercy – the same as in our gospel today.
We read in more detail about the ways of exercising mercy in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CC2447) we read: “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.”
May the Risen Christ bless you in His mercy! Deacon Mike