April 1, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionLast week, the Church celebrated Easter with great hope and joy. This week, the Church begins to tell us what the resurrection of the Lord means to us here and now. It is about God’s loving mercy. We celebrate the Sunday of Divine Mercy in the Holy Year of Mercy.

This weekend’s first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles, as is the case in almost every Mass of this season.

Important to understanding Christianity and the Church itself is realizing that Acts continues St. Luke’s Gospel. This fact is not that apparent since for centuries biblical translators have inserted St. John’s Gospel between Luke’s Gospel and Acts, blurring the connection between Luke and Acts.

The link shows that the redemption secured by Jesus, his miracles and preaching did not end with his ascension. All of these realities associated with Jesus were continued by the Apostles in the context of the infant Church.

This weekend’s reading describes a time not long after the Lord’s ascension. It is clear. His Apostles, obviously led by Peter, continued the Lord’s mission of redemption.

God’s mercy lived through them. This weekend’s reading tells of the sick and the weak being brought to Peter, who healed them, just as Jesus had healed the lame and the mute.

The Book of Revelation provides the second reading. By its nature, it shows us the continuing place of divine mercy in life. First, God inspired John to write this Scripture, that future generations, such as our own, might know God.

Second, John wrote some time after the ascension. He wrote not in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and rose, but on Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea, now part of Greece. John further learned about God.

The message is that always God reveals. God always reaches to us.

St. John’s Gospel provides the last reading. It is a familiar resurrection narrative, the story of the reluctance of the Apostle Thomas to accept that Jesus truly had risen to life after having been crucified, and then of the great faith of Thomas.

The Apostles assure Thomas that the Lord is risen. He is unconvinced. Then, dramatically Jesus appears. He invites Thomas to believe. In awe, and the uttermost faith, Thomas declares that Jesus not only is teacher and Redeemer, but indeed that Jesus is God.

The Lord then confers upon the Apostles that most divine of powers, the power to judge what is sinful and to forgive sin. It is a divine power, since sin affronts God. Thus, only God can forgive sin. Jesus forgave, being the Son of God. He transmits this authority to the Apostles, men who will form the Church and entrust this power to the Church for all the generations to come.

Reflection

Two points in the readings support the theme of divine mercy. The first is the absolute love for the Lord, seen in the readings. God, through Jesus, always calls us to life in him.

The second point is that God’s call in our day and time, and in every age, comes to us through the Apostles. They were so much more than the Lord’s companions and most frequent students. They represented the Lord. They possessed the Lord’s authority and power after the ascension.

Majestic among all these powers was their ability to share God’s mercy through forgiving sins, an ability expressly conferred upon them by Jesus.

We are not alone. Granted, as humans we are limited, no matter how impressive “progress” may be. The Lord comes to us with strength, knowledge and life. He lives! His mercy lives, as freshly now as ever.

We only have to turn to God honestly and humbly. †

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