I have somehow managed to remain ignorant of the intentions of this Sunday’s celebration, so I have been doing some research. Maybe you also need more information?
I started with an examination the gospel reading for this year, John 20: 19-31. In addition to the story of “Doubting Thomas,” who wished to see the wounds of the risen Jesus with his own eyes before believing in the Resurrection, this gospel relates how Jesus gave the Apostles the sacrament of reconciliation in lines 21-23. This opportunity to confess our sins, which arises from the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, is the heart of the Divine Mercy.
The salvation of our souls from the darkness of sin is the reason we celebrate the Resurrection. In return for repentance, our Lord grants us eternal life. Jesus accepts the penance of death on our behalf. How appropriate that we honor the Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of the Easter season. While our joy at the Resurrection is fresh in our hearts, we recall that God is merciful, that He washes away our sin. We place our trust in God that he will reveal His plan for us if we live faithfully. Alleluia!
Indeed, the revelation of the Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina calls even the most hardened and habitual sinners to know the depth and abundance of God’s forgiveness. The Apostles of the Divine Mercy suggest on their website (sitio en español) that Divine Mercy Sunday should be an evangelization tool to welcome “fallen away” Catholics to return to the church and begin a new faith-filled life after repenting from sin. We all know Catholics who have left the church for a more secular life; there is a great need to promote the opportunity for Divine Mercy in our time among all Catholics.
In order to receive the Divine Mercy, one must repent his or her sins, attend confession, receive communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, and pray for the pope’s intentions. Veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy and merciful acts toward others are also important. We cannot be like Thomas and doubt the Resurrection. Unlike Thomas, we know what the Resurrection means for all who choose to embrace it; we must walk the path to holiness with faith and open hearts.
Like last year, I have discussed the importance of repentance with my children, and the gift of God’s infinite mercy. We have looked at images of the Divine Mercy (see some at the Oblates home page linked below), and discussed the symbolism of the red and blue rays emanating from Jesus (the blood of sacrifice and the waters of baptism). On Sunday, we’ll color this image of the Divine Mercy, courtesy of The Oblates of Divine Mercy. At that time, we’ll have another discussion about confession and repentance, as well as how we can show mercy to others.