Happy Easter! That’s right. We are in the Octave of Easter. For 8 days (from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday) the Church “holds us” in the moment of the Resurrection. “Octave” means 8 days. An octave is the Church’s way, liturgically, of extending our worship in one long Easter day. (Same is true for the Octave of Christmas.) Tomorrow (Monday of the Second Week of Easter) we move into the Easter Season, which lasts 50 days until Pentecost. So… Happy Easter!!
Based on the private revelation of Saint Faustina Kowalska, known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy, Pope Saint John Paul renamed today Divine Mercy Sunday. For nine days now, from Good Friday until today, those particularly devoted to our Lord’s Divine Mercy, have been praying a novena for the whole world. Each day of the novena a different group of people is presented to the Lord that He might shower them with his mercy. This afternoon from 2 to 3pm, those prayers conclude with adoration. Please come by and pray with us!
In 1980, just the second year of JPII’s pontificate, he wrote the encyclical, Dives in Misericordia , or, God Who is Rich in Mercy. There, he articulated that Jesus shows us the face of the merciful Father:
“Especially through His lifestyle and through His actions, Jesus revealed that love is present in the world in which we live - an effective love, a love that addresses itself to man and embraces everything that makes up his humanity. This love makes itself particularly noticed in contact with suffering, injustice and poverty - in contact with the whole historical "human condition," which in various ways manifests man's limitation and frailty, both physical and moral. It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called "mercy.” (n.3)
After developing a beautiful meditation, JPII concludes, “For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love's second name and, at the same time, the specific manner in which love is revealed…” (n.7) The whole document is worthy of your attention. I love that: mercy is love’s second name!
We perceive this “second name of love” from the foot of the Cross, when Jesus says, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” We see mercy in Jesus’ promise, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Mercy’s face shines in Jesus’ dialogue with Peter, “Do you love me?.... Feed my lambs.” And the forgiveness of our loving Father is on full display today in the Upper Room, when Jesus appears in their midst despite the locked doors and repeats “Peace be with you….Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” and breathing the Holy Spirit upon them, imparts the power to forgive and retain sins: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
The power and reality of this moment are unmistakable. These men who abandoned Jesus at the cross, those who were unfaithful (except John), are now given the power and responsibility to serve as instruments of forgiveness in the world. Those whose faults and failings are laid bare are commissioned to be missionaries of mercy. Sinners, sent out to share God’s forgiveness with the world. Such is the mercy of God! And such is the power and responsibility of the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Happy Easter! Blessed Sunday of Mercy!