Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Divine Mercy

What stood out to me about the three readings from Acts, Revelation, and the Gospel of John in today’s Holy Mass was the relationship between the revelation of Christ’s resurrection and the mission of the Church to act as a force for good in the world through corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

In the first reading, we hear of the apostles working wonders among the people in Christ’s name “Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles.” These signs took the form of curing the physical ailments of the people as well as healing their spiritual afflictions. The former is a corporal work of mercy, while the latter is a spiritual one.

Christ appears to John in his seclusion on the tiny island of Patmos in the second reading. I had the great fortune to visit the island a few years ago and can attest to the utter solitude and austerity of the place. Jesus exhorts John to “write on a scroll what you see.” What follows are the revelations recorded in the final book of Sacred Scripture. This, too, is a spiritual work of mercy in that John’s apocalyptical writing touches upon each and every one of our spiritual responsibilities as Christian men and women: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrong patiently, to forgive offenses, to comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead.

Jesus appears to the apostles in the upper room in John’s gospel. We then listen to the familiar story of Thomas’s famous doubt and the subsequent affirmation of his beliefs when Christ appears for a second time to his disciples. The apostle touches Christ’s wounds and cries out, “My Lord and My God!” Wouldn’t it be a marvel if we all proclaimed this truth with such simple ineffability as Thomas? Christ shows us his personal theology of mercy in his sublime utterance “Peace be with you.” Is not carrying His peace within us and sharing it with others the surest path to mercy? Furthermore, is not the reception of the most Holy Eucharist the best means by which to touch Christ’s wounds as Thomas did and be reconciled with God in His Divine Mercy? Finally, doesn’t our acceptance of His Divine Mercy encourage us to forgive our fellow man his transgressions against us as the Lord’s Prayer exhorts?

Lord, grant that I my receive your precious Divine Mercy with a thankful and contrite heart; grant that I may be moved by the revelation of your loving resurrection to be more merciful to my fellow man by gladly performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy with a joyful heart, as your apostles did and continue to do for your greater glory; grant that I may have the courage to love you with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself, for these are your two great commandments, and they are impossible without your mercy to guide us. Amen.

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