The Church community as the central place for God’s Mercy
Every second Sunday of Easter, the Church Celebrated the Feast of Divine Mercy. Pope Saint John Paul II instituted this feast after the revelations of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Saint Faustina. Our Lord had said to her : “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 complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary, 699).
On this great day, we celebrate the richness, meaning, participation in and application of God’s mercy for us. This mercy of God finds its fulfilment and its apex in the Community. The readings highlight the central place of community. It is within the community as portrayed in today’s Gospel that Jesus commissions the apostles to forgive sins. The Gospel helps us to grasp the full sense and value of this gift of God’s Mercy within the Community.
The Evangelist John makes us share in the emotion felt by the Apostles in their meeting with Christ after His Resurrection. Our attention focuses on the gesture of the Master, who transmits to the fearful, astounded disciples the mission of being ministers of Divine Mercy : “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’ “ (Jn 20:22-23). Jesus entrusted to them the gift of “forgiving sins,” a gift that flows from the wounds in His hands, His feet, and especially from His pierced side which he showed the doubting Thomas. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity.
The Church provides us with the Sacrament of Penance to help us benefit from God’s Mercy. In effect, there are three things that make up our approach to confession: Contrition: this entails being truly sorry for our sins, for our offences against God and neighbour; Confession: This involves stating in words, to God, what we know we have done wrong. On this note we must tell everything that is sinful that we can remember. Satisfaction: this comprises showing our intention to make up, even in some token way, for the effects of our sins. On this note a penance prescribed by the priest. (Cf. Evangelium Bible Diary 2015).
The World needs God’s Mercy to Change everything. During the first Angelus after his elections, the Holy Father Pope Francis stated: “Feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. (Angelus, March 17, 2013). With the special Jubilee of Year of Mercy proclaimed by our Holy Father, our attention must be focused upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him.
Our Church Community remains the cadre in which this mercy of God is nurtured, catered for and is dispensed to all. As members of one family and community, the Church, may we implore at all times the Mercy of God for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. May Mary, Mother of Mercy and Saint Faustina help us to always have trust in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. May we fix our Regard on the Merciful Jesus and repeat with devotion: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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