Jesus Asks for the Feast of the Divine Mercy
Happy Easter! Jesus loves you so much! He desires you to be washed in His mercy and be in communion with Him.
Jesus appeared to a young Polish girl, St. Faustina, beginning in 1924, before she entered religious life. He gave her a series of messages and an image of His Divine Mercy. It was during these private revelations that Jesus told St. Faustina, “I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it” (Diary 341).
Through the efforts of St. John Paul II, on May 5, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments issued a decree which proclaimed the Second Sunday of Easter to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. So, on this Second Sunday of Easter, 2018, we remember and celebrate the Lord’s Divine Mercy as we have done since the decree.
Solemnities and Octaves
All Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation are celebrations of the highest importance on the Church’s liturgical calendar. These days, plus a few others, are known as solemnities.
Two solemnities are so important that the Church celebrates them for eight days. We call these solemnities, octaves. They are Christmas and Easter. Essentially, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday are celebrated for eight days each.
So today, the Second Sunday of Easter, now known in the universal Church as Divine Mercy Sunday, is the concluding day of the Easter Octave. The Solemnity of Easter is the feast of feasts and the solemnity of solemnities! Indeed, Easter is so important that we observe the season of Easter for seven weeks (50 days) from Easter Sunday through Pentecost Sunday. This celebration is an incredible opportunity for new life and mercy… for conversion, forgiveness of sin and new beginnings.
The Lord’s Mercy
The passage from John’s Gospel (John 20:19-31), proclaimed at today’s Mass, reports on the powerful and moving encounter between Jesus and His Apostles in the upper room on that first Easter Sunday and again on the following Sunday—we might say at the beginning and end of the first Easter octave. It is an encounter of comfort, encouragement and strengthening for His Apostles; an encounter that launched a ministry of reconciliation and the age of Divine Mercy.
Eight days before that second encounter, the emotional roller coaster the Apostles experienced continued. Crucified and buried on Friday, they now had reason to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Mary Magdalene had reported that she spoke with the risen Lord. Peter and John had witnessed the empty tomb. And now, on the evening of that first Easter Sunday, while they were frightened, uncertain and locked in the upper room, Jesus makes His first appearance to them. No knock at the door… no bolt thrown back… He was simply there. “Peace be with you.”
The Lord knew that His chosen ones would need encouragement and reassurance. He gave them His peace. And he breathed on them. This is important. Where else had God breathed on man? He first breathed on man at creation when He formed man out of the dust of the earth. And now, God again breathes on man… when He empowered His Apostles to begin their ministry of Reconciliation.
“And when he had said this, 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’ ” (John 20:22-23)
He told them that He was sending them out as the Father had sent Him. It was important that they finally understood who He was and why He was here, especially now that they were to now act in his person.
These themes are important throughout John’s gospel—Jesus carries out the work of the Father and now sends forth His chosen apostles to continue that work:
- the work of proclaiming the good news and reconciling sinners…
- the work of forgiving sin and healing the sinner.
Jesus was killed for this work; many of those he has sent through the ages have also been killed.
And yet, today, many of us who need forgiveness and need healing do not truly grasp what is offered to us and who it is that offers it.
Sin darkens the spiritual senses and harms the body and soul.
The more we sin and the longer we put off reconciliation, the harder it becomes to truly know the Lord and His healing. Our struggles may have gone on so long that we are either no longer aware of them, don’t care about them or simply believe that we are broken beyond repair and even become frightened of seeking forgiveness.
So it is important that we have a correct image of Jesus in our life.
He does not stand above us wagging His finger and offering criticism as we sin; He stands before us with outstretched arms and healing hands desiring to embrace us and tell us that He is with us and that everything can be okay. He’s waiting for you right here, right now. He is all holy and He desires you to be in communion with Him.
For that, you do not in this life need to be perfect; you need to be forgiven, to be healed and to be contrite and desire holiness.Go to Him in the confessional for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you are in a state of grace, go to Him and surrender to Him in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
If you fall again, and you will likely do so, run back to Him and fall into His arms. And show your gratitude by offering thanksgiving at Holy Mass and taking His message of holiness and mercy to all you know and everyone He places in your daily walk.
From the Decree regarding indulgences attached to devotions on Divine Mercy Sunday…
“To ensure that the faithful would observe this day with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence, as will be explained below, so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, they can foster a growing love for God and for their neighbour, and after they have obtained God’s pardon, they in turn might be persuaded to show a prompt pardon to their brothers and sisters.
. . .
“a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!);
“A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.”
Read more about this indulgence at: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/indulgence.htm
We Should Perform Works of Mercy
The Lord reminds us that we are to be merciful if we expect to receive His mercy. He told Faustina, “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first by deed, the second by word, and the third by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.” (Diary 742)
He emphasized this obligation on our part: “Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it.” (Diary 742)
This message is for each of us, a consolation for us that we be aware of his abundant mercy and also a reminder to perform the works of mercy, particularly as traditionally taught by the Church.
|The Spiritual Works of Mercy||The Corporal Works of Mercy|
|1. To instruct the ignorant||1. To feed the hungry|
|2. To counsel the doubtful||2. To give drink to the thirsty|
|3. To admonish the sinner||3. To clothe the naked|
|4. To bear wrongs patiently||4. To shelter the homeless|
|5. To forgive offenses willingly||5. To visit the sick|
|6. To comfort the afflicted||6. To rescue the captive|
|7. To pray for the living and the dead||7. To bury the dead|
Read more about the Divine Mercy, including the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Novena of Divine Mercy, the Hour of Mercy, and more… http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/feast.htm
Into the deep…
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