By Fr.Matthew Brumleve
During the Jubilee year of 2000: Pope John Paul II designated this 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
On this Sunday, and throughout the Easter season and in fact – throughout our lives — we are invited to take up the strength of grace that comes to us from the mercy of God – and show that mercy to others.
THAT is a direct command which always comes to us in the Gospel on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus says to the disciples [and to us]: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”
After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them: “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive — are forgiven.”
This is the meaning of mercy that is presented to us by Christ: forgiveness. Not carrying around the weight of the past – not to be held back by grudges, not seeking harm or retaliation of another — but forgiveness.
The first task the risen Christ gave to his followers is to forgive one another. . . This commission is to be a concrete and visible sign of Christ’s mercy.
Today, in Pope Francis – we have a Pope who never tires of talking about mercy. “Mercy,” the Pope says, “is the face of God.”
I can do no better today than to simply read some of Pope Francis’ quotes on mercy – pausing after each one to let it soak in a bit – and then we will end with an appropriate response to mercy – singing.
Pope Francis says:
“Jesus kept his wounds so that we would experience his mercy. This can strengthen us and give us hope.”
“Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith –and a concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Christ.”
“We are all sinners but God heals us with an abundance of grace and mercy and tenderness. We are called to go and do likewise.”
“Mercy is a verb – not a noun: we have to show mercy in order to receive mercy. We cannot meditate on mercy without it turning into action.”
“Start by feeling compassion for the poor and the outcast – then surely you will come to realize that you, yourself, stand in need of mercy.”
“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Mercy commits everyone to being an instrument of justice, reconciliation and peace.”
“For it is by mercy that the Lord forgives our sins and gives us grace to practice acts of mercy in God’s name.”
“Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in the life of a Christian. The first victim is whoever lives these sentiments – because it deprives them of their own dignity.”
“The most important thing in the life of every man and woman is not that they should never fall along the way – the important thing is always to get back up – not staying on the ground and licking your wounds. God’s mercy helps us to do that – to get back up — and our mercy can help others do it.”
“If our hearts are closed – if our hearts are made of stone – the stones quickly find their way into our hands and we are ready to throw them. So open your heart to mercy – -and let go of the stones.”
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking God’s mercy,”
“Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope – where everyone is welcomed, loved, and forgiven.”
After meditating on mercy – how can we keep from singing? So I invite you to turn to #494 in the hymnals to learn a simple refrain. . .
Mighty Spirit of our Lord. . .
Give us faith to live your word.
You have loved us as your own. . .
Make us turn to you alone.
May we be a blessing true. . .
Christ as Lord of all we do.
Be the fountain of each soul. . .
Flow in us and make us whole.
Make us children of your light. . .
As your gospel shining bright.
God who lives beyond our death. . .
Love as near as every breath.
As the mystic St. Faustina taught us to pray:
For the sake of his sorrowful Passion – have mercy on us and on the whole world. AMEN!