DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY: Acts 2:42-47; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9
I would like to give you two simple definitions of two common Catholic words that most don’t understand. What is grace? Very simply perfect love flowing from the thrones of the Father and Jesus in heaven. (Revelation 22:1-2) The second word is mercy. It also means God’s unlimited love flowing to us.
This is the eighth day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. All the writings of the New Testament flow to us with the preaching of the original apostles and disciples with Christ’s mission to go into the whole world and announce the good news of God’s salvation for all his children. The first line of the second reading today is very powerful, 1 Peter 1:3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy (love) gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Write your Easter story
As I said last week, the whole Christian life moves toward Jesus on the cross and flows from his pierced side. It is very helpful for our faith to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and read each gospel story about the resurrection. Write your own story incorporating all of the elements from Easter Sunday, our greatest feast. St. John 20:19-31 is read every year on this Sunday. First we have the event in the Upper Room on Easter evening. Jesus materializes before his followers, showing them that he really is alive and glorified. He wishes them peace and then breathes on them, giving them his Holy Spirit and his power to forgive sins.
The second part of that story happens a week later when “doubting” Thomas is present. Jesus chides Thomas for his unbelief. Most sermons focus on doubting Thomas and encourage us to have faith without seeing Jesus physically. In reading and meditating on these stories, we come to know Jesus and his will. Yet many will not accept Jesus because they don’t want to change the way they are living.
After Jesus’ ascension, he has appeared to some people over the last almost 2,000 years. The latest approved apparition was to Helen Kowalska, a poor Polish farm girl who only had three and a half winters of education. She finally entered the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to be his secretary of Mercy / Love. Jesus said, “I have opened My heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust.” (Diary, 1520) Jesus further said, “On the Cross, the fountain of my mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls – no one have I excluded! (Diary, 1182)
As the revelations continued, Jesus gave us several channels from which we can gain more of his mercy for ourselves, for certain intentions or the whole world. Jesus reminded us that the greatest channels of his love are at Holy Eucharist, Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where sins are washed away. He also gave us a new picture of himself with red and pale rays flowing from his heart with an inscription at the bottom, “Jesus I Trust in You.”
Jesus wanted this first Sunday after Easter to be called, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope Saint John Paul II added this new name to this Sunday. He told us that the greatest hour to pray (after the Mass) was at 3 p.m., the time Jesus died on the cross. Jesus gave us a new 9-day novena in which each day we bring a different group of people in the world and place them for special blessings into his heart. I pray that almost every day all year long for the world is so in need of his mercy.
Jesus also gave us a simple yet great gift in a new rosary, said on our regular rosary beads, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It only takes about 6 minutes to say and there are no mysteries of think about. Here also we bring various situations to Jesus for his blessing of love and conversion.
These are very simple tools by which we can draw down upon ourselves, our loved ones, parishes, cities, state, country and the world more of God’s love. Do not be afraid. These only take a few minutes of our day and contain so much divine power and grace for ourselves and world. We are filled with more faith, hope, joy and courage of God’s great love for us
Have a wonder-filled week filled with all the blessings you are able to receive from Jesus. It is like tuning the satellite dish to the best channel on earth.
May the glorious light of our risen Lord Jesus completely surround and fill you,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(@2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)