Second Sunday of Easter, Year A (Divine Mercy Sunday)
Theme: The Church as the community forgiveness
Today is known as “Divine Mercy Sunday” in reference to Jesus’ apparition to Sr. Faustina in the 1930s promising He would bestow His Divine Mercy to any repentant sinner. Jesus told Sr. Faustina, “The Feast of Mercy emerged from my very depths of tenderness. It is my desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.” (Diary §699). This Sunday thus invites us to contemplate God’s infinite Mercy experienced through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The central theme of today’s reflection is forgiveness within the church community.
Today’s first reading highlights the central place of a community as a place of fraternity, sharing of meals and prayers. Togetherness, in line the apostles’ teaching, had a powerful effect. Many miracles and signs were worked through the apostles and these made a deep impression on everyone.
It is within a community as portrayed in today’s gospel that Jesus commissions the apostles to forgive sins. This can only be exercised where there is a believing community, or else each one would be absolving their own personal sins. Jesus gives the apostles the power to forgive sins through the power of the Holy Spirit. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
Today’s Gospel encourages each one to love the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament, also known as the Sacrament of Conversion, Sacrament of Penance, Sacrament of Confession and Sacrament of Forgiveness (cf. CCC 1423 – 1424) is a treasure of the Catholic faith. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus forgives people’s sins.
In today’s Gospel, after the Resurrection, Jesus gives the apostles power that in the Spirit they too are to administer His divine forgiveness. It is advisable that during confession we should be truly sorry for our sins. God shows great mercy!
Three things make up our confession approach: Contrition – this entails being truly sorry for our sins and offences against God and neighbour. Confession – This involves stating in words, to God, what we know we have done wrong. It is a worthy practice to try and say everything that we can remember which has been sinful, even if not grave. Satisfaction – this comprises showing our intention to make up, even in some token way, for the effects of our sins. As a result, a penance prescribed by the priest; a prayer or action to be fulfilled after Confession.
At the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the tendency is to feel that there will no longer be much emphasis on mercy. Pope Francis shows that God’s mercy goes beyond time and space. It has been in the world and will continue to be. On November 20, 2016, Pope Francis, therefore, published an Apostolic Letter “Misericordia Et Misera”, Mercy and Misery, showing that Mercy has its place in the Church which is a forgiveness community.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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