FROM THE CATHOLIC LITURGY FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY, April 23, 2017. John 20:19-31. In today’s Gospel, John invites us into the secret locked room where we join in the conversation between the Apostles on that first Easter Sunday night. We can imagine how animated and puzzled they were as they recount what Mary Magdalen and the Holy Women have told them: stories of angels announcing the Resurrection; of them having spoken with & touched the Risen Jesus.
Then, Jesus is suddenly in their midst! And I am astounded by what he ays to them, or rather by what he does NOT say! He says “Peace be with you” twice…but I am flabbergasted by this. I expect him to say: “You knuckleheads, you fair weather friends! Where were you when I was taken? Why did you all run away?” But I expect Jesus to say such things because I am a sinner, selfish, payback-oriented.
But Jesus is ALL MERCY. Mercy is tender compassion and forgiveness, it is understanding and consoling. Jesus shows his wounds which are the proof of his mercy and by which our sins have been erased from the books of our lives. That is why today we celebrate the 2nd Sun of Easter as DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
Then Jesus goes on to say something unimaginable to the Apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…”Sinful, selfish, unfaithful men become ambassadors of God’s mercy, instruments of reconciliation, agents of forgiveness! This is the institution of the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation, which we call Confession.
Two astounding acts of mercy happen in Confession. First, we receive the certainty of forgiveness. We do not need to wonder or hope that we are forgiven, that God has “heard” us. Second, in this sacrament we encounter more than just forgiveness…we receive absolution which includes forgiveness but goes beyond it. Absolution is the total annihilation of our sins by the merit of the Blood of Jesus. When we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is as if God says to us: “My son has used his wounds to erase these sins…they are no more…go in peace.”
ASTOUNDING. AMAZING. THE UNFATHOMABLE MERCY OF GOD!