April 27, 2014
Second Sunday of Easter
Sunday of Divine Mercy
Reading 1 Acts 2:42-47
Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
R/ (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
Reading 2 1 Pt 1:3-9
Gospel Jn 20:19-31
One of our retired priests told the following story at his 80th birthday party: A small boy came up to him after Mass, while shaking hands at the door of the Church, and handed the priest $1.00. Thinking that it was a donation for the parish, the priest took the opportunity to educate the lad about the ways of the Catholic parish, saying, “You can always put donations in the collection basket that the ushers bring around after the homily.” Young man replied, “It’s not for the collection, it’s for you Father! My parents said you were the poorest priest they’ve ever seen.” True story!
As we see in the first reading, the first reading after Easter, from the Acts of the Apostles, from the beginning Christians have been a giving, generous bunch: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” Why are we to be generous? Because our “poor priests” need it? Of course not . . . Instead, we give because of what we’ve been given! Because, in a very real sense, when we were all “poor,” God was rich in sending His Son to save us.
This is the very heart of Divine Mercy Sunday. Or, as the great saint most associated with this Feast, St. Faustina, recorded in her Diary as a revelation given to her from our Lord, “And I understood that the greatest attribute of God is love and mercy. It unites the creature with the Creator. This immense love and abyss of mercy are made known in the Incarnation of the Word and in the Redemption [of humanity], and it is here that I saw this as the greatest of all God’s attributes.” (181)
The church makes it clear by kicking off the Sundays after Easter by seeing that, in the wake of the Resurrection, our response to the resurrection must be the very same instinct of the early believers: to respond with generosity because they had been so generously cared for by God. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we recall and recommit: We recall that God has been merciful to us. We therefore recommit to be merciful to others. And have we, the saved, been merciful! We’ve founded hospitals, schools, orphanages, colleges, engaged in mission works, and done great works of charity.
The now canonized St. Pope John Paul II declared in May 2000, on the occasion of the canonization of St. Faustina, this first Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday.” On that day, he said: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord (Ps 111:4), who out of the great love with which he loved us (Eph 2:4) and with unspeakable goodness, gave us his Only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, so that through the Death and Resurrection of this Son he might open the way to eternal life for the human race, and that the adopted children who receive his mercy within his temple might lift up his praise to the ends of the earth.” He continued with our response to such love that is mercy: “The path of mercy . . . , while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that "man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called ‘to practice mercy’ towards others: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5: 7)” In addition to the greatest act of praise we make, the Eucharist, we also praise God’s goodness given to us by sharing that goodness with others.
What is this Divine Mercy? It is the very essence of the Love of God: love freely given, even when we did not deserve it. Once received, it is so fruitful, it must be shared!
What an enormous force for good have been Christians throughout the ages. . . because we have known God’s mercy—his love—the love we have received overflows for others. What a challenge are those who have gone before us in the Christian life. They challenge us to charity. If they were charitable, caring for our ancestors, we too must be generous and merciful, to care for others.
Our God has been so good, so merciful to us He has given us life, saved us from death, and given us the promise of eternal life As WE bask in the glory of the resurrection, God’s great sign of love that is mercy, we ask, Lord, to whom do you send us to show your mercy? Who needs us to show them Your face? St. Faustina is right: The greatest attribute of God is love and mercy. If we dare claim the name Christian, if we, God’s children, claim to reflect God in our own lives, then it must be a face of love and mercy. This means loving others when they do not deserve it, renouncing anger, resentment, vengeance; and embracing self-sacrifice, charity, forgiveness, acceptance. For, the Body of Christ, the Church, of which we are part, is divine mercy itself. This is where we discovered divine mercy; this is from where we share mercy.
Our ancestors in the faith have done their remarkable job, sharing the love of God given to them with others and with us—now it is our turn. Together, let’s write the next outstanding chapter in the history of the charitable works of the followers of Christ. Because we have been shown mercy, let us be mercy.