April 22, 2022

Divine Mercy Sunday / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionLast week, with great joy and hope, the Church celebrated Easter. 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.

This weekend’s first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles. Important to understanding Christianity, and the Church itself, is in 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 them.

The link shows that the redemption secured by Jesus did not end with the Lord’s ascension, nor did the Lord’s miracles, nor preaching. Vitally important is the fact that all these realities associated with Jesus were continued by the Apostles in the context of the infant Church.

Thus, this weekend’s reading describes a time not very long after the Lord’s ascension. His Apostles, led by Peter, continued the Lord’s mission of redemption.

His mercy acted through them. It 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. It shows us the ongoing place of divine mercy in life. First, God inspired John to write this Scripture, that future generations, such as our own, might know God. Divine revelation in itself is an act of God’s mercy.

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. Years had passed. The site was distant from the Holy Land. God’s mercy is confined by no borders, distances or time.

The message is that God reveals himself to anyone, wherever, whenever. 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 assured Thomas. He was unconvinced. Then, dramatically Jesus appeared. He invited Thomas to believe. In awe and the uttermost faith, Thomas declared that Jesus not only is teacher and Redeemer but is God.

The Lord then conferred 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, and so only God can forgive sin. Jesus forgave, being the Son of God. He shared this authority with the Apostles.

They were men who formed the earliest leadership of the Church and bequeathed their God-given authority to the leaders of the Church that came after them for all the generations to come.

Reflection

Two points in the readings support the theme of divine mercy. The first is the absolute love of the Lord, seen in the readings.

The second point is that God’s call, spoken in every age, comes to us through the Apostles. They were so much more than the Lord’s companions and students. They represented the Lord, receiving his divine authority. They bore this authority after the ascension.

Majestic among all these powers was their ability to forgive sins, an ability expressly conferred upon them by Jesus, as the Gospel indicates.

Be consoled. No one is alone. Granted, as humans we are limited, no matter how impressive “progress” may be. But Jesus comes to us with strength, knowledge and life. He lives! His mercy lives, as freshly now as ever.

We only must turn to God honestly and humbly. †

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