This Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The message of Divine Mercy is simple: God loves all of us, and He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus all of us can come to share His joy.
The message of Divine Mercy is one we can call to mind by simply remembering ABC:
Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
This message of Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God's mercy. Even before her death in 1938, devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread, and in the year 2000, St. Pope John Paul II gave the Second Sunday of Easter this special title for the universal Church.
Learn more about The Divine Mercy and the associated prayers by visiting thedivinemercy.org.
Jesus, I trust in You!
David J. Conrad
The First Reading this Second Sunday of the Easter Season is from the Acts of the Apostles (like all the rest of our Easter Season masses). Today the very first line is: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.” Can you imagine any Community where this would be true? A Community infused with compassion and empathy, tolerance and forgiveness in the every-day? I have trouble picturing this in “the real world” of today—our world—with so much self-interest, social media (with hardly any control of hate speech disguised as personal opinion) and the political or personal fighting over power, money and control. I sincerely yearn for the kind of caring and sharing that would change our current “real world” in the same way Jesus’ presence post-resurrection seemed to change the world back then…for even a little while. Because we know that people being people, power corrupts, fear and greed drive us, and we sometimes love the wrong “gods.”
Reading this Act of the Apostles and hearing how they lived then, though, should mean it is not impossible to put aside all our grievances, our greed, our selfishness, sin and fear—and to put on Christ in this world. I keep thinking that it happened before and it could happen again. I believe this to be so. I pray for this to be so—to experience the Kingdom of God in the here and now—brought on by our communal and personal goodness and holiness. How may this happen?
I think we need to focus and remember well the lessons Jesus taught in His short Ministry while here on earth. I think the lessons from His ministry were actually relatively simple and very clear. A few that spring to my mind immediately: stop judging one another—as people carry heavy burdens of which we may know nothing. Stop throwing those sin-stones. A lesson from the Lord about tolerance for the “alien,” about those strangers in a strange land—we are called to be kind and compassionate like the Samaritan: helping others who need help—even if they are foreign and different. We need to accept people “where they are at” like Jesus accepted the woman at the well. We need to invite others into understanding and inclusion—even inviting those we consider to be enemies—like Jesus invited Zaccheaus. We need to forgive and love like the father of the prodigal son. We need to feed the multitude. We should strive to live in the spirit of the law—rather than the letter of the law. We need to accept our own burdens and help others carry their crosses like Simon of Cyrene.
The many lessons and examples, teachings and parables of Jesus were still fresh in the minds of those Disciples post-resurrection: “they had everything in common.” And so do we, really—or we should! We seem to have forgotten the common good, putting ourselves first. (There are lots of parables about acting that way.) And you hear it and see it a lot: “What’s in it for me?” or “Why should I bear the burden or the cost of other’s 1.) laziness or opportunism; 2.) deservedness; 3.) just fill your personal blank. We seem to have lost the ability to consider the common good for all in the name of 1.) our personal identity, ethnicity, fear; etc, 2.) “patriotism, greed; and again, 3.) just fill in the blank.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us today: “There was no needy person among them…(all was) distributed to each according to need.” Wow. As today’s disciples of Jesus, we are challenged by this—to think of the common good in our priorities, our choices and decisions—before our own personal gain. St. John tells us today in his First Letter that when we love God and keep His commandments we may “conquer the world.” He didn’t mean militarily—he meant to conquer the world of greed and sin and “fill in the blank” in order to live in the Spirit.
Jesus appears in todays’ Gospel risen with the marks of His suffering because He gets it, He gets us. He knows we are wounded, so was He—and by us. Jesus could have re-appeared whole and perfect—but we can see—even in His risen person—the image of a suffering servant, the sacrificed Lamb of God. His advice to those Disciples in the upper room and to us, is to be at peace. Do the work, and be at peace. We are blessed because we have not seen Him personally and yet, we believe. We just need to believe enough to be of one heart and mind. That is the way we “may have life in His name.”
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Thank you again to those St. Aidan Music Ministers who sand and played on the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Psalm of Hope videos. Thank you also to those who began to cantor again for our Community!
Just a Musical Note: “Where there is charity and love, God is there.” (Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.) We have three musical settings in our Journeysong hymnals! Here is a lovely piece of music by Maurice Durufle—Ubi Caritas, based on our Church’s plain chant. Where there is charity and love, God is there. We do need more love and charity in the world.
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.