jueves, 7 de abril de 2016

The Gift of the Resurrection: Divine Mercy

Rubens, 1611
by: Br. Azam Vianney Mansha

Today, we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy feast was instituted by Saint John Paul II and extended to the entire church on the day of the canonization of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska on April 30, 2000.

As we read in the Gospel that the disciples were fearful. Though Peter and John visited the empty tomb (John 20: 2-10) and found the napkin ‘the resurrection sign for John’ (v. 7) but still faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was weak. The disciples were afraid to face the Jews (v. 19), therefore Jesus intervenes in the feared situation of the disciples. He gave peace (vv. 19b, 21), breath (v. 22), and the Holy Spirit to forgive sins (v. 23).

The peace was necessary for the disciples because they were going through the desolation period. It was a desperate situation for them since: 1. They denied, abandoned, flee, and step back from the friendship and association of Jesus, and 2. Jews and Romans were inquiring about the body of Jesus therefore the disciples were facing a false accusation of stealing the body of Jesus Christ.

In our day to day life, it also happens to us when we go through desperate situation. We sin and hide ourselves (Gn. 3: 10). We feel that we are being judged by others, therefore we avoid them. In those moments the Risen Jesus enters into our lives, even doors are closed (v. 19). He gives peace and the Holy Spirit so that we can reconcile with our past. The Risen Jesus also encourages to share the joy of the resurrection in our context.

In order to be the witness and sharer of the resurrection, Jesus breathed on the disciples (v. 22). This action of Jesus is Creator’s gesture (Gn. 2: 7) which made the disciples the evangelizers of the Word and through the power of the Holy Spirit the disciples did many miracles and wonders (Acts 5: 12-16). The breath of Jesus empowered the disciples to be the witnesses of the Risen Christ and forgive sins. Pope Francis says:

Jesus, transfigured in his body, is already the new man who offers the Paschal gifts, the fruit of his death and resurrection. What are these gifts? Peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, mission, but above all he gives the Spirit who is the source of all these. The breath of Jesus, accompanied by the words with which he communicates the Spirit, signifies the transmission of life, the new life reborn from forgiveness.[1]

The Holy Spirit communicated the Divine Mercy to the disciples. The Mercy of God is the Divine experience of wonder in which God reaches to the people, give peace and forgiveness. The Risen Jesus reached to Thomas and allowed him to experience God’s Mercy (vv. 26-29). Jesus showed to Thomas the signs of God’s Mercy in his risen Body which moved Thomas to make the profession of faith ‘My Lord and my God’ (v. 28).

Everyone wants Mercy! In order to be merciful to our brother and sisters, we need to receive the Mercy of the Father. The Father’s Mercy, we can receive through the celebration of the Sacraments and before participating in the celebration of the Sacraments, one has to acknowledge his/her sinfulness. To acknowledge our sinfulness is also a moment of grace as Pope Francis says, ‘recognizing oneself as a sinner is a grace.’[2]

In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and on the Feast of the Divine Mercy, we are called to experience and share the Mercy of the Father which God has revealed through the Risen Christ. The Risen Jesus entrusted the mission of the Father to the disciples (v. 21) and today we are sent out by the Mother Church to proclaim the Risen Jesus as John Eudes says ‘we are missionaries of Divine Mercy, sent by the Father of mercies to dispense the treasures of mercy to those most in need.’[3] In order to be grateful to the Father’s Mercy let us join our voices with the psalmist and say ‘O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good’ (Ps. 118 (117): 1).

[1] General Audience, Novermber 20, 2013

[2] The Name of God is Mercy. trans. Oonagh Stransky (New York: Penguin Random), 58

[3] Letter of St. John Eudus to the Priests of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, May 15, 1653

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