Second Sunday of Easter or Sunday of Divine Mercy Acts 5:12-16 Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 1 7-19 John 20:19-31
Pope Francis knows us. Although he has caught our imagination for many reasons, he has captured our hearts because he seems to know us so well. In these first days, he has continually drawn our attention to our own behavior — not to the flaws of others. If we are tempted to look toward others rather than ourselves, he speaks about the mercy of God and encourages us to be merciful, too. And then, in one of his first homilies, he focuses on gossip. He reminds us that Jesus was criticized for associating with sinners.
Pope Francis tells us that “…we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others.”
This is Divine Mercy Sunday and all three cycles of scriptural readings and liturgical prayers are centered on the forgiveness of sins and God’s infinite mercy. In any community, and the church is no exception, mistakes are made. Christians offend and individuals are harmed and hurt. Instead of reaching out and healing, we criticize and, yes, we gossip. Gossip makes enemies of those who could be our friends, of those who could otherwise be open to the message of reconciliation. But every community also has its “healers” — individuals who reach out to both those who harm and those who are harmed and heal them with their concern and love.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not powers reserved to the Church. They are potentials of the human community. When we realize that potential, we enhance the sacramental reality. We bring all these acts of human healing to the Sacrament of Penance and that sacrament is echoed in our own acts of forgiveness and reconciliation.
God’s mercy is rooted in love. The First Reading addresses oneness of heart and the Gospel proclaims the power given to those united in love. This is the power of the Church. The healing and reconciliation that occur within the context of the Eucharist are possible because believers are united in faith. This is expressed in the relationship between the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the celebration of the Mass. The power of the community celebrated at Eucharist--the realization of the “already and the not-yet” — generates the forgiveness that occurs outside the celebration. At this Eucharist, we celebrate the healing power of love and unity which brings credibility to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We celebrate the power given to the Church by Jesus, that lifts the power of the human community to a new level. Together we pray for the sensitivity and courage to recognize and to heal those we hurt. In healing others, we will be healed.