April 11, 2021 — Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
ACTS 4:32-35; PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 JN 5:1-6; JN 20:19-31
On this second Sunday of Easter, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We celebrate this feast today since God’s mercy was shared with us through the resurrection of Jesus. The access to Divine Mercy has been with us since that time. Many centuries later, in 1931, Jesus revealed specific instructions to a nun named Sr. Faustina to help further spread the message of His Divine Mercy. To put it simply, today, we are celebrating Jesus’ merciful love for us and how we can partake in it.
No matter where we are on our journey as a disciple of Christ, we are all in need of God’s merciful love. There are countless times throughout our day when we miss the mark. For instance, we might fail to respond in kind to our spouse or kids, fall into gossip in our workday, or even forget to think positively of others. These shortcomings call us to humble ourselves and receive the unwavering mercy of God.
As we see in our Gospel, even Thomas, one of Jesus’ apostles, falls short as he doubts the resurrection. We can resonate with Thomas in the ways we might have doubts about the presence of Christ in our day-to-day lives — not believing in His power, doubting His presence in times of suffering, or even doubting His love for us. Yet, there is something valuable we can learn from Thomas. Once he realized his weakness, he cried out, “My Lord and my God.” Surely at that moment, Jesus could see the thoughts of Thomas’ heart and extended His merciful love towards him. When we recognize our need for God’s mercy, let us cry out for Him at that moment, saying, “My Lord and my God, have mercy on me.”
Jesus is Mercy itself. He was born into time to save us from sin. And to ensure His Mercy was always available to us, He gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In our Gospel, Jesus encounters the apostles after the resurrection and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus gave us the gift of this sacrament because He wants to help us reach eternal life. He knows we cannot do it without His merciful love, and a resolve to do better and to follow Him more faithfully. It starts with an awareness of our sins and a humble heart.
In our Second Reading, St. John helps us further understand this message of mercy. He says, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.” We must be careful not to fall under the misconception of a false message of mercy — God’s mercy is abundant and readily available to us; however, we need to do our very best to actively live out our call as disciples of Christ. The times when we fall are the times we must seek God’s mercy, in addition to changing our ways to become a more faithful disciple. One way to tangibly help us achieve this is by doing a daily examen each night. If we take just a few minutes to reflect on our day with gratitude, acknowledge our sins, and pray for tomorrow’s events, surely we will grow on our path of discipleship.
Let us continue to celebrate today, as we are in the midst of our glorious Easter season! As we celebrate, may we recall the precious gift God has given to us through His Son — Mercy itself. May we never forget that, with a contrite heart and a resolution to do better, God is always willing to forgive. And may we never withhold merciful love from anyone we meet.