Divine Mercy Sunday

04-28-2019Church RenovationFather Prince Raja

Happy feast of Easter! Easter is the prototype of all Christian feasts. It is such a great event that one day ofcelebration does not suffice. We needed eight days of liturgical celebrations. Yes, today we conclude theOctave of Easter.

On this 2nd Sunday of Easter, every year, we have the same gospel reading, though the other two readings vary.The gospel passage of today begins with the narration of the first appearance of the Risen Lord to his apostleson the day of Easter, it goes on then to narrate the appearance of the Risen Lord to Thomas who was absent onthe day of the Easter. The latter incident takes place on the eighth day of Easter (like today). Thus the gospeltext of today from John (20:19-31) really links the Easter Sunday to the Octave. A very apt reading indeed toconclude the Octave of Easter!

Today is the ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’. It is not a mere coincidence that in the private revelations that SrFaustina Kowalska (1905-1938) received, Jesus asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated tothe Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. Therefore, on 30th April 2000,when Pope John Paul II canonized his country-woman, Faustina, he said, “It is important then that we acceptthe whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now onthroughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’.” In brief, this Sunday invites us to contemplatethe mercy of God.

Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Today is the feast of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the gospel today, Jesus gives authority to his disciplesto forgive sins. It is God who really forgives. This understanding is still maintained in the formula ofabsolution that the priest utters during the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: It is God who gives pardon and peace. The priest – who takes the place of the ‘disciples’ of Jesus today –absolves in the name of the Church, that is, he frees the penitent from their guilt and blame. Often, a lot of people ask, “Why should I go to a priest for confession?” “Why can’t I confess directly to God? After all, God forgives every time we acknowledge our sins.” To these questions, my simple answer is: True,God forgives me every time I acknowledge my sins before Him. But how will God let me know that He hasforgiven me fully in a way that I can hear and see, except through the instrument of another human person. Ofcourse, this human person has to be anointed and set apart (ordained) for this purpose, so that the sign becomesvery real. This is the wonderful possibility available in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: the visible sign ofGod’s invisible mercy.

Do I really and deeply experience the healing power of the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Ifnot, why is it so? Is it because I use the sacrament without much preparation, as a mere routine, as a ritual ofmagic? Or is it because I do not fully confess my sins – out of fear, out of outward shame, or out of insensitivityto sin itself – that I have not opened up the wounds sufficiently for the Lord to touch them! On this feast then, let us resolve to make frequent confession – good confession, sincere confession, openconfession!