Yesterday, the Catholic Church celebrated a Sunday that has a myriad of meanings. In 2000, St. John Paul the Great designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
During the ceremony, he declared: It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called “Divine Mercy Sunday”. In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings [Homily, April 30, 2000].
The Divine Mercy image depicts Jesus at the moment he appears to the disciples in the Upper Room, after the Resurrection, when he empowers them to forgive or retain sins.
This moment is recorded in John 20:19-31, which is the Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday in all three yearly Sunday liturgical cycles (A, B, and C).
This reading is placed on this day because it includes the appearance of Jesus to the Apostle Thomas (in which Jesus invites him to touch his wounds). This event occurred on the eighth day after the Resurrection (John 20:26), and so it is used on the liturgy eight days after Easter.
(It also, however, includes the appearance of Jesus to the disciples on Easter evening, a week earlier, in which he empowered them to forgive or retain sins.)
Fast forward to today, we live in a culture that is not so merciful. It is a double-edged sword. We have the power to forgive others just as they forgive us. Pro-lifers are called to show mercy towards others. We have to forgive the escort that trips us when we sidewalk counsel or offer loving support as they enter the facility.
The Lord told St. Faustina that it was particularly for the sin of abortion that God’s mercy needed to be called down on the whole world. He allowed her to feel terrible pains representing the moms aborting their unborn children.
Questions to ponder:
Have I showed mercy towards someone who has disagreed with me?
When was the last time I said to someone who taunted me with mean and degrading words that “I will pray for you”?
How can I show mercy today?