Homily (Reflection) for Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) (11th April, 2021) on the Gospel and the celebration
Ps 117:2-4.15-18.22-24. (R.v. 1);
Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Low Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday based on the devotion to the Divine Mercy as propagated by a Polish Nun, Saint Faustina Kowalska. This feast (Divine Mercy Sunday) has lots of promises of grace made by Jesus Christ as recorded by Saint Faustina. It was officially instituted for the universal Church by Pope Saint John Paul II on 30th April 2000 and designated the Sunday after Easter as the Sunday of the Divine Mercy. This is in line with the request made by Jesus Christ through Saint Faustina: “…the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy” (Diary 742). For Pope Saint John Paul II, Divine Mercy is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity (Divine Mercy Sunday Homily, April 22, 2001).
Topic: Divine (God’s) Mercy.
We celebrate today the Mercy of God. And because this feast is rooted in Saint Faustina’s encounter with Jesus Christ, we shall take some excerpts from Saint Faustina’s Diary (Diary). Christ suffered and died for our sins, cf. Eph 2:16, Rom 5:10, 1Cor 15:3, Gal 1:4. Yet in Diary 965 we read: “Souls perish in spite of My [Jesus’] bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity….” The mercy we celebrate can only be obtained by those who want. It can be likened to a stream in two senses: it ever flows and secondly it benefits those who go for it. Unless one approaches the Divine throne of mercy that ever flows, it will not be of any benefit to the person.
One may ask, ‘how does one approach the throne of mercy?’ Going further Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary 1109). Sacramental confession is therefore sine qua non for one to benefit from the throne of mercy. Although this homily is not on the authority to forgive sin, but it is important however, to remind ourselves that at the confessional, it is not the priest that forgives sin. In today’s gospel Jesus said to the disciples: “…Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (Jn 20:22-23). In other words, it is the Holy Spirit that is working in the Church through the instrumentality of mere humans (priests) at the confessional.
Jesus assures us,
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet (Diary 699).
Remember that God had called us through the prophet Isaiah using similar words: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Is 1:18).
However, Jesus warns that those who look for mercy must be first merciful themselves, cf. Diary 742. Similarly, we read in the gospel according to Matthew: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7). Again, Jesus warns, “...if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). So, approach the throne of grace today for mercy. However, you must remember those who need mercy as you approach divine mercy.
Bible Reading: Lev 5:5-13; Is 1:2-20; Ps 32; Matt 28:16-20; 1Jn 1:5-10; Jas 5:13-20.
Thought for today: What prevents you from receiving Christ’s Easter gift?
Let us pray: Merciful Father, help us to benefit fully from this unmerited gift – Amen.
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