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Lectionary 44: Divine Mercy Sunday

April 26, 2014


Scripture: Lectionary 44. April 27. Octave of Easter. Acts 2:42-47. Psalm 118: 2-4,13-15.22-24. I Peter 1:3-9. John 20:19-31:

Alleluia! Alleluia!Alleluia!  This Sunday is truly overwhelming from a liturgical point of view, and from a historical first, and from  the great theme of Divine Mercy. The readings are all centered on the great gift of our faith in the Resurrection and how it is continually growing through prayer, liturgy, and our mission and purpose in life.

The great historical event happening for the first time in the Church is the canonization of two popular and remarkable popes: Pope John XXII and John Paul II.  Pope John opened the Vatican II Council on October 11, 1962 .It was in those days feast of the Mother of God. The Holy Spirit guided the Council to help the Church face its mission in the modern era.  This same Pope is hailed by our Jewish brothers and sisters as their favorite. He himself called himself, “Joseph, your brother” referring to the great Patriarch of the Old Testament, Joseph, the son of Jacob who saved his family from starvation and showed how good God was in his life by his virtuous and self-giving generous love. Much of Genesis is dedicated to Joseph from chapter 37-50.

Pope John Paul II, was a holy and devoted Pope whom we now know as one of the greatest of Marian popes.  His writings attest to this hundreds of times and we were blessed with his Marian year encyclical called Mother of the Redeemer. He was the most traveled pope of all times imitating the great St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles and taking his name as part of his inspired mission. Totus tuus was his Marian motto meaning “Totally yours”! His long painful death showed how he loved life and fought against all forms of the culture of death so common to our world today.
The second great gift is this Sunday’s liturgy. It is filled with Divine Mercy and has been chosen as  the Sunday known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  It was inaugurated by John Paul II and his great love for St.Faustina who lived by this gift of God’s ever pervading divine mercy on all of humankind.  We now celebrate it every year on this second Sunday of Easter or the Octave of Easter.

Thirdly, as happens each Sunday, we have great liturgical readings that lead us to God and celebrate the gift of our resurrection faith.  The Eucharist completes the celebration with our Lord dwelling within us under the gifts that were given at the Last Supper and which continue in the sacrament each time we celebrate the Mass.

In the Acts of the Apostles we have Luke describing for us what the nascent Church really is.  The disciples of Jesus proclaim that Jesus is risen and that from now on we are a community that shares its gifts and reaches out to others in the mission confided to us as disciples of the Lord.  It is Luke who opens the gift of discipleship to everyone who believes in Jesus and lives out that belief through the community which is at prayer, at Eucharist, and in mission.  Several times in his summary statements he will bring out this gift of the Church and its mission. Vatican II is the modern version of what is said by Luke about the Church and we are called to be ever “ancient, ever new”, always in being reformed and adapted to reading  the “signs of the times.”

Psalm 118 continues to be the Paschal Psalm during these weeks of the Easter Season. It was the last of the great Hallel Psalms that Jesus and his disciples said at the Last Supper.  It sings of the divine mercy which endures forever and thus is right on target with the Sunday praising God as Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is a communitarian psalm that unites God’s people with the Temple and the observances of the three great feasts of Tabernacles, Passover, and Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks. We can easily see how our liturgy does have its foundation in the Hebrew Scriptures through these pilgrimage feasts.If we read and pray this psalm well, we will understand what God’s Divine Mercy is.  The Hebrew word (Hesed or Chesed) captures God’s Divine mercy seen in forgiveness and unbounded love for us who are bound by a covenant of sacred signs which are spiritual realities.  The first four lines are flooded with praise of God’s Divine Mercy.

Verse three of the First Epistle of St. Peter contains the gift of Divine Mercy which we first enjoy at our Baptism through Jesus going down into his death and burial and rising again on the third day.  We have resurrection faith because of our being baptized in the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We experience a new birth which is imperishable and gives us hope throughout the years of our life.  Our inheritance is salvation and eternal life with Jesus in his glorified presence in the kingdom of heaven.

The Resurrection of the Lord who appears to the disciples gathered in an upper room is the theme from John. Once again, through Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples the Divine Mercy of God is seen in forgiveness and unbinding of all that keeps us from being free in the presence of God.  The first ending of John’s Gospel in chapter 20 is another excellent grace that we enjoy on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”  (John 20:29c-30).

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!  Amen.


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