Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter – 2024

Written on: April 4, 2024

Reflection on Mercy Sunday
By Sister Diane Bardol, GNSH

First Reading: Acts 4:32-35
Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6
Psalms: 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Gospel: John 20:19-31

In a series of revelations to St. Faustina in the 1930s, Jesus called for a special feast day to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. At the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II named the feast Divine Mercy Sunday. So, here we are today celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, 2024.

I’ve been pondering a lot on the mystery of mercy. What is it, what does it mean, what does it look like, is it the same as forgiveness? It’s been the subject of my prayer and conscious thought, making the journey awesome. I’ll share with you where this has taken me. I sense mercy as a healing balm, oil whose physical property allows it to seep over and flow into the smallest of dry cracks and crevices of life giving a new suppleness and ease of movement into new life. It’s a freedom from the fear of who knows what! However, it’s not simply the substance of oil itself; oil on its own can do nothing. There needs to be an agent to pour it. So mercy is an action. As Shakespeare’s beautiful quote from the Merchant of Venice, “It is twice blest: It blesses him that gives and him that takes.” How like Jesus to put his gift of mercy into our hands so we can be agents of mercy!

Today’s Gospel takes place on the evening of the day of resurrection. We join the disciples who are locked in the room where they are staying out of fear. Fear has such an immobilizing effect. What are the disciples afraid of? Could they be facing the same fate as Jesus since they were his friends; are they facing the guilt of their own cowardice that was on full display the week we call Holy, or is it that they are overwhelmed by the horrendous events that had just taken place?

Whatever their fear, it must have even made memory inaccessible. They forgot the parable Jesus told of the merciful father who, with open arms, welcomes back his prodigal son not even allowing him to speak of his sin. They forgot the poignant moment when the woman taken in adultery was thrown before Jesus with the expectation of forcing Jesus to acknowledge that the punishment required by their law should be meted out. Instead, Jesus addresses the real issue here, mercy trumps legalism. They forgot when Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. They forgot his admonition to be merciful, as their Father in heaven is merciful. All these encounters of Jesus with the people were life-giving, healing, empowering. He rarely mentions sin or even forgiveness which carries with it the assumption of sin. Jesus saw in everyone way more than mere human faults and failings. He saw their core holiness, God’s own image in them that could only rise to the surface through the balm of mercy. How could they have forgotten all those amazing lessons! I would say it was fear; fear had overtaken them!

But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus enters the locked room, shows his wounds to them and says “Peace be with you.” At that, the locked minds and hearts of the disciples opened, like the doors, and they rejoiced! Then Jesus breathes new life into them, missioning them to go and be that healing breath of God to others so they too are empowered to do the same. And he never even made reference to their shame or guilt or fear! Only mercy can do that!

So where does this leave us on Divine Mercy Sunday 2024? Consider some of the issues facing us today – racism, environmental justice, gun violence, fear mongering that creates hatred for people different from us, just to name a few. All are crimes against the sacredness of life rooted in fear. How can we unlock our minds and hearts to really see others as sisters and brothers? How do we hear Jesus’ invitation to bring and to be God’s mercy to these issues in these times? It will be different for each one. But one thing is sure, we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and retreat behind locked doors!

Perhaps we could tap into another source of wisdom, this time from Gandhi. He said, “We are more than the evil we sometimes commit.” So let’s practice looking for that ‘more’ in everyone, including ourselves.

Ricky Manalo, CSP and Bob Hurd
All music reprinted with permission. A-726704




One thought on “Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter – 2024

  1. Mary Elizabeth Looby says:

    Beautiful, Diane! Thanks so much!

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