Today we celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy. As you may remember, we are currently celebrating the “Year of Mercy” as announced by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The readings for this Sunday discuss mercy, trust and the forgiveness of sins, and invite us to be merciful as God is kind and merciful.
The first reading is taken from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The reading describes the faith of the early Christians and invites us to become like those early Christians. The reading explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of His Apostles in the early Church. The Apostles’ faith enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love through “signs and wonders” that the Risen Lord performed through them. Following the model of service set forth by Jesus, they healed the sick by wielding God’s power over disease and unclean spirits. These cures illustrate how the power of the Resurrection can work miracles, even through ordinary people and in everyday life. We know that this Power of the Resurrection still operates today because we have seen how a friendly smile, a gentle touch, or the willingness to forgive can heal a broken spirit. Likewise, this power is reflected in the challenging words of a parent, a teacher, or a friend, which can quicken the minds and the hearts of people around us.
In the second reading, Saint John comforts and bolsters the faith of the persecuted Christians by reassuring them of the presence of the merciful Lord in their lives. Here we read about the vision of the Risen Christ in glory, revealing messages for the Christian communities through John. This calls us to encounter the Risen Lord and bear witness to Him as the early Christians did and calls us to have the courage and passion to say like the Apostles, “We have seen the Lord!”
In today’s Gospel, as we recall Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles on that first Easter evening, we are vividly reminded of the Sacrament of Reconciliation—the power to forgive sins which Our Lord gave to His apostles—“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The Gospel reading also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading Presence of the Risen Lord of Mercy, “to believe without having seen Him.” Let us ask God our Father to open our hearts so that we may receive His Mercy in the form of His Holy Spirit and be a beacon of His Mercy.
Living faith enables us to see the Risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each other our loving service. The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of Saint Thomas the Apostle: a) we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible; b) we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer; and c) we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Blessed Mother Teresa presented it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”