Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15; 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31
Well friends in our Risen Jesus Christ, we are finishing our nine days of Easter Solemnity.
At the daily Masses we have been reading all of the Easter Sunday stories as we have looked at the times, places, people and what Jesus said and did. Most of them are thrilling stories, which give us a better picture of what happened that day. All of the New Testament books were written after Pentecost when the community of Jesus had been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to go out and continue Jesus’ work of saving humanity. We are disciples because of what they proclaimed in a mighty way.
This Gospel of St. John is read every year on this second Sunday after Easter. There are two stories related. One is late on Easter evening after Cleopas and Luke had returned from Emmaus to tell of their apparition. Jesus showed them all that he was alive. Then he breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit and gave them the power of forgive sins. Changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus and taking sins away are the two most important things priests do. Amazing and thrilling!
The second story in that gospel occurred a week later when doubting Thomas was present. I think most priests preach about that story. I don’t think anyone reading this has had a personal appearance of Jesus. If he has appeared to you, I want to meet you. As we have been Catholic most of our lives, and gotten more serious about our faith, we go much deeper without physically seeing and touching Jesus. Yet we do touch him when we receive him in communion and he lives inside of us. Our bodies are so important because our God lives within us. Alleluia!
For me, what is more important about this Sunday is what Jesus asked Pope John Paul II to do with this Sunday. Jesus wanted it named Divine Mercy Sunday. Mercy means God’s extraordinary love for us. So when you see mercy, think of his LOVE. Jesus reminds us of the many channels of divine power that he has given us to use in our lives in helping him make the world a better place to live in.
These are the major things Jesus wants us to know and use frequently:
1) Jesus reminds us that the greatest prayers and sacraments are Mass and Reconciliation.
2) We have a new picture of Jesus with rays of his love flowing from his pierced heart on the cross. He asks us to get on one of those rays and come into his heart full of love for all people.
3) We have this new "Feast" to celebrate God’s love for us, Divine Mercy Sunday.
4) We have a "new rosary," the chaplet of Divine Mercy. It only takes five minutes to say and it is directly to Jesus.
5) We are given a new 9-day novena of bringing a different group of people to Jesus each day asking Jesus to immersing them in his merciful heart. Or we can say the chaplet each day. I do both.
6) Next to the Mass, the great hour of prayer is 3 p.m., the time Jesus died on Cross for us.
7) Jesus required that as we have received his mercy, we are to be loving and forgiving to others. In the past we referred to this extension as the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.
8) Jesus also wanted us to take advantage of having all of our sins and the temporal punishment due to those sins taken away on this day. That is what a plenary indulgence is. Yet as we look at the guidelines for this indulgence we can gain one every day, one for ourselves then apply the others to forgotten souls in purgatory.
Jesus gave these directives to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s in Poland. St. John Paul II approved them and promulgated them as great means of drawing down on the human race more of his great love for us. Through these channels we go directly to Jesus in our prayer. I love these and use them daily. I pray today for great blessings on you, your families, our country and the whole world. We certainly need all of God’s love that we can get. Amen!
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday
+ Fr. Bob Hilz, Loretto, PA
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)