Engaging the Gospel – Divine Mercy Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday: Gospel – John 20:19-31

Divine Mercy Sunday is an especially fitting day for the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

In his address upon the opening of the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII memorably said that “we prefer to make use of the medicine of mercy, rather than that of severity.”

John Paul, as Archbishop of Krakow, embraced the Divine Mercy devotion promoted by his compatriot, St. Faustina Kowalska.

When canonizing St. Faustina on this Second Sunday of Easter in 2000, John Paul declared that henceforth this day would be called Divine Mercy Sunday — highlighting the theme that was already present in our readings for this Mass.

John Paul explained how Sunday’s Gospel reveals the mercy of Christ:

Jesus shows His hands and His side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr. Faustina…will see two rays of light shining and illuminating the world: ‘The two rays,’ Jesus Himself explained to her one day, ‘represent blood and water.’ …

The blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist; the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit. Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the Heart of Christ crucified…

As the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, Who shows the wounds of His Crucifixion and repeats: ‘Peace be with you!’ …

Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave His life for each one; to everyone the Father gives His Spirit and offers intimacy…

The gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from His Heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope.

Homily of April 30, 2000

Nearly five years later, in 2005, Pope John Paul died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Question for reflection: How is my heart changed by experiencing Jesus’ mercy?