Divine Mercy Sunday

Gospel John 20:19-31 

‘Happy are those who have not seen yet believe.’ Dear friends, today the entire Catholic world celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ revelation to St. Faustina, the apostle of Divine Mercy. On 30 April 2000, the second Sunday of Easter, his holiness Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass in St Peter’s square in Rome and proceeded with the canonisation of Blessed Sister Faustina. This invites us by the witness of His life to keep our faith and hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, who has saved us by the Precious Blood of His Son. The Lord Jesus assigned St. Faustina three basic tasks through her short life. The first task was to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s mercy. Secondly, to tell the world about God’s generous mercy. And thirdly, to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s mercy. This is what is called the Divine Mercy devotion in which many of you are devotees.

At the canonisation ceremony of Sr. Faustina, Pope John Paul II said – The Cross even after the Resurrection of the Son of God speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father who is absolutely fearful through His eternal love for man.

Believing in His love means believing in mercy. Now we have the Lord of Divine Mercy which is portrayed in a leaflet. It is a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina. It shows Jesus raising His right hand in a gesture of blessing, His left hand on His chest from which comes forth rays, one red and one white. The vision contained the message – Jesus, I Trust in You. The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning, red for the blood of Jesus which is the life of souls, and white for the water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God.

In today’s first reading we see the power of the Resurrection of the Risen Christ that worked in the life and actions of the apostles and that of the early Church. We are given the picture of how the early Christians behaved as believers. This community was characterised by three things. The first was unity. They were united and faithful to the teachings of the apostles. Secondly, it was a community of prayer. They had communal prayer at the temple every day, and also prayer in their homes daily. Thirdly, they demonstrated their faith in the Risen Lord by being generous and kind to the poor members of their community. They sold their property, brought their proceeds to the apostles which was put into one pool, and everyone was not needy among them. If the entire world was giving like this early Christian community there would not be poor people in our world today but because of selfishness some are getting richer while others are getting poorer. The first reading is telling us to be kind and generous to those who are underprivileged among us, through a communal level as a Parish or through an individual level. Respond to their needs, whether material or spiritual.

In the second reading, we see that St. Peter is addressing his audience by telling them that even though they have not set eyes on Christ, they love Him. And even though they have not seen Him before with their naked eyes, they still believe in Him. For Peter faith in the Risen Christ is still possible even if we don’t see Him.

In today’s Gospel we recall Jesus’ appearance to His disciples on the first evening of Easter. He imparts His peace to them before He addresses them, He saluted them – Peace be with you. Afterwards He entrusted His mission to the apostles and this mission was to preach the Good News which was God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. This teaches us that the apostles passed on the Good News to the missionaries who have passed it on to us, so we are the modern apostles. There are still many people that are unfamiliar with the name of Jesus and we are to share this mission of the apostles.

The Risen Lord also gives the apostles the power to forgive sins. God has created us and doesn’t want us to perish. He wants to save us that is why He sent His Son to die to give us life. But He doesn’t stop there. We are weak and He empowered the apostles to continue to forgive sins on His behalf. He tells them – whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained. He gives the apostles God’s mercy for the sinner and we are the sinners now. This is the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Church in which we can make amends with our relationship with God. This also reminds us that since God loves us, God is ever ready to forgive us and as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday today, Jesus opens His heart and is ready to receive us as sinners. As true Christians who have received the Risen Lord this Easter, He wants us to receive others and forgive their offenses also.  With this forgiveness in our lives, we are counter witnesses. The Gospel presents the fearless apostle, St. Thomas and his honesty, demanding the personal vision of and physical contact of the Risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Jesus appeared in the apostles’ midst and showed them He was alive but Thomas didn’t believe until he saw Jesus for himself. He believed when he saw, but blessed are those who have not seen yet believe!

Even though we do not see Jesus there are many things He wants to tell us that is contained in the Holy Bible and we should adhere to the Scriptures. St. Paul tells us that faith comes from hearing, if nobody preaches the faith then nobody can hear it, so our mission is to preach the faith of the Lord. St. Augustine has this to say about faith – Faith is to believe in what we don’t see and the reward of faith is to see what we believe. Not everything we see with our eyes is believable!

Dear brothers and sisters, on this Divine Mercy Sunday, the Risen Lord is ever ready to forgive us. He is the King of mercy and is always ready to receive us. He encourages us to be merciful to one another, in our homes, in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces, and to continue to appreciate the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Church. Jesus, the King of mercy, may He continue to forgive us and grant us our needs. Amen.