A few years ago Pope John Paul II placed into the Church’s liturgical calendar the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter. In so doing he confirmed devotion to Christ as the Divine Mercy, a devotion which flowed from visions of our Lord received by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun whom Pope John Paul II also canonized on April 30, 2000.
Today’s Gospel tells us, appropriately, of the Divine Mercy. Jesus’ passion and death was an act of Divine Mercy. His was a sacrificial death offered for the forgiveness of sins. With his resurrection from the dead, his victory over sin and death is complete. Saint Peter speaks of this connection in today’s Second Reading: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” There seems to be a sense of urgency about Jesus in the narrative of today’s Gospel, which tells of his first appearance to his disciples on the very evening of the resurrection: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.… Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Catholic Tradition regards this event as the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, through which Jesus has given the Church the power to forgive sins in his name. It is the sacrament of the Divine Mercy. For this gift our psalm refrain expresses our gratitude: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love is everlasting.”
The devotions proper to Divine Mercy Sunday are being held this afternoon at the Church of Saint James the Less on Caledonia Street. More details are in the bulletin. All are welcome to attend.
The family of the late Mary Jeanne Rady has donated a picture of the Divine Mercy, which depicts Saint Faustina’s vision of our Lord. It has been placed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
Today, 11 years and one day after he canonized Saint Faustina–and appropriately on Divine Mercy Sunday–Pope John Paul II is being beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Some of us have had the privilege of seeing or meeting him in person. May his legacy of inspiring teaching and leading the people of God live on in the Church today, and may his prayers obtain a renewal of faith throughout the world.