This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. There is so much depth in these readings and so many truth nuggets to reflect upon, especially since Pope Francis declared this the Jubilee Year of Mercy. So where do we start?! In an attempt to avoid word-vomiting all over this page, we want to explore the richness of Divine Mercy along with this part of this weekend’s Gospel
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
We’ve heard variations of this before, right? Forgive others. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love others as I have loved you. Forgive unceasingly. But this passage is so beautiful in the way that Jesus reveals what He wants for us (peace), He issues his challenge for us (forgiveness and mercy), and He identifies and gives us the tools we need to carry out His commission (Holy Spirit).
To know and experience the peace that comes with forgiveness from and for others is what Jesus desires for us. It’s not easy to shed the weight of anger, pain, anxiety, and misery that can accompany conflicts and betrayals in our lives. Reaching a place of peace means receiving forgiveness and offering forgiveness even if it is not accepted and even if those who have hurt you never offer remorse in return.
Jesus is essentially issuing us a challenge and a call to Divine Mercy…as the Father has sent me to grant mercy and forgiveness, so I am sending you to do the same to others. Who knows the pain of sin more than Jesus? When we sin we’re not just “doing bad things”, we’re betraying the love we have for our beloved Savior. Think for a moment how deeply wounded we feel when we are betrayed by one we love or care about. If we get hurt or offended by a stranger, it doesn’t quite sting as much right? Because we haven’t invested in that person. But what about a God who has invested so much in us, loves us so much he died a brutally painful death to give us his gift of Mercy? How deep are the wounds that we inflict upon him as our sins literally become the nails that pierced Him? The mercy and forgiveness he has shown us even though we didn’t deserve it, is the kind of mercy he calls us to show others.
By opening our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, we allow ourselves to be open to experiencing the mercy God has for us. Our acts of mercy toward others bring upon ourselves an experience of God’s mercy in our own lives. When we wrestle with the very real challenge of forgiving others, the Holy Spirit is working in our hearts and lives and transforming us.
So what do we do with this? When Pope Francis declared this the Jubilee Year of Mercy, it gave the Church many avenues for reminders of Jesus’ commission to practice Divine Mercy. Look for opportunities in your daily life, even in the small things, to prayerfully exercise mercy and forgiveness with joy and from a place of peace. Have faith and trust that even though the part of us that is our human nature may feel those who have wronged us don’t deserve anything from us, through the power of the Holy Spirit and through Divine Mercy, there can be forgiveness.
To pray this reflection in the form of worship, we invite you to listen…