THEME: DIVINE MERCY
READINGS: Acts 5:12-16/ Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19/John 20:19-31
2nd Sunday of Easter – Sunday of Divine Mercy
According to today’s gospel reading, the first words of our risen Lord to His apostles were: “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). These words, which our Lord repeated, assured the apostles that He had forgiven them for denying and deserting Him. In other words, they experienced the Lord’s mercy.
THE FACE OF THE FATHER’S MERCY
Whereas sin creates a gap or valley between us and God, His loving mercy bridges the gap. For this reason, Pope Francis says that Divine mercy is “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness” (Misericordiae vultus, 2015). To bridge the gap between the holy God and sinful humanity, the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us (cf. John 3:16). As both Divine and human, Jesus Christ has become the perfect and eternal bridge between God and humans.
Furthermore, whoever sees Jesus sees God the Father (cf. John 14:9). By implication, then, we see or experience the mercy of God the Father in the person of Jesus, His words and actions. Thus, according to Pope Francis, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. … Jesus of Nazareth, by His words, His actions, and His entire person reveals the mercy of God”. In other words, Divine mercy “has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth.”
DIVINE MERCY IN THE PASSION OF JESUS
Divine mercy was very visible in the words and actions of Jesus during the difficult days of His agony and passion. Let us look at some instances:
- Jesus knew before the Last Supper that Judas would betray Him, that Peter would deny Him three times and that the rest of His disciples would desert Him. This notwithstanding, Jesus demonstrated Divine mercy by overlooking their terrible offences and dined with them, as well as washed their feet.
- Because of Divine mercy, Jesus, though He knew that Peter would betray Him, prayed that his faith may not fail (cf. Luke 22:31).
- Because of Divine mercy, Jesus would restore the severed ear of the high priest’s servant who had accompanied the enemies to arrest Him in the garden of Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:50-51).
- Jesus had the power to cripple those hands which were raised to slap, scourge and crown Him with thorns. He had the power to dislocate the hands which lifted the hammers to nail Him. Yet in all these, He chose to remain powerless, because of Divine mercy.
- By the favour of Divine mercy, Jesus would overlook the crimes of the repentant thief and offer him the eternal glory and joy of Paradise (cf. Luke 23:40-43).
- Because of Divine mercy, Jesus, while in great pains on the cross, would seek the Father’s forgiveness for those who betrayed, denied, deserted, falsely accused, mercilessly tortured, unjustly condemned, heartlessly crucified and unfairly mocked Him (cf. Luke 23:34).
DIVINE MERCY TODAY
Beloved, when our Lord Jesus was dared by the chief priests, scribes and others to get down from the cross, He refused to do so (cf. Mark 15:29-32), because His eyes of mercy saw things the crowd at Calvary did not see. That is, though His physical eyes were dimmed by extreme pains and covered with His blood, His inner eyes of mercy saw clearly into the past, the present and the future. For the past, His eyes of mercy saw the souls of all the holy souls who had died before Him and were eagerly waiting to be saved by His sacrifice. For the present (as He is hung on the cross), His eyes of mercy saw in the crowd at Calvary and the millions across the world then who needed the mercy of God. Then, for the future, His eyes of mercy saw the thousands of generations of people (including you and me) that would come after His resurrection and ascension – people who would need God’s mercy and forgiveness. For all these people, our Lord humbly and mercifully decided to die on the cross.
So, even today, because of His great mercy, Jesus continues to wash the feet of those who betray, deny or desert Him. Indeed, Jesus knows that after washing, not our mere feet, but our souls in baptism, we will sometimes deny Him by not confidently or publicly expressing our faith in God; or we will sometimes desert Him by our unfaithfulness, yet He washes away our sins.
Furthermore, even today, because of His great mercy, Jesus continues to feed those who betray, deny or desert Him. Jesus knows that after feeding us with His most precious Body and Blood, we will sometimes betray, deny or desert Him, yet He continues to feed us, because of His great mercy.
Beloved, Divine mercy is the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved by God despite our sinfulness. And the cross of Jesus has become the visible bridge of God’s mercy. Indeed, so merciful is Jesus that even in the most painful hours of His life, He forgave us our sins. So, no sin is beyond the forgiveness of God: “His mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive” (Pope Francis). Let us, therefore, confess our sins however grievous they may be and the God of mercy will forgive us. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis