Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, the eighth day of the Easter Octave and Divine Mercy Sunday. On this day, the Church invites us to reflect on that great quality of mercy. The Gospel reading from John’s Gospel relates the story of Thomas as well as the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the gift of the Sacraments, Jesus gives us an opportunity to experience God’s love and mercy first hand because it was out of love for sinful humanity that God sent Jesus to be our redeemer.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is God’s promise to us that we are never abandoned; we are never tossed aside. God through his Son Jesus wants us to be with him. Even Thomas, who doubted the resurrection, was desired by God. Even Peter, who betrayed Jesus prior to the Crucifixion, was desired by God. In a poignant moment on the cross, even the Good Thief was told by Jesus: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.” In short, salvation and eternal life are our destiny.
So great is God’s love for sinful humanity, that St. Faustina promoted the devotion to the Divine Mercy and the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, established the Feast of Divine mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter. The words “Jesus I trust in you” are on the icon of Divine Mercy to remind us to always keep Christ in our hearts.
However, because God has shown us such great mercy, we are invited to give that gift to others. As I have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so too must I forgive others. As God has been merciful to me and washed away my sins, so too must I be merciful to others and entrust them to God’s mercy.
This weekend we remember the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I read an article on the internet about Father Thomas Byles who was on the Titanic traveling to his brother’s wedding. Fr. Byles was a convert to Catholicism and was on the deck of the ship reciting his breviary on April 14, 1912 when the ship struck the iceberg. According to witnesses, he helped others to get to safety, heard their confessions, gave absolution and led the recitation of the Rosary. One of the survivors reported that as the ship sank, Fr. Byles was saying the rosary on the deck and praying for the repose of the souls of those about to perish while Catholics, Protestants and Jews were kneeling around him. He refused the offer to get on a lifeboat saying that his ministry was on the ship. You can read more about this story at FatherByles.com and on LifeSiteNews.com.
This is truly the ministry of Divine Mercy: to offer comfort and God’s peace especially to those in most need.
May this Second Week of Easter be an opportunity for each of us to be and instrument of God’s forgiveness, God’s peace and God’s mercy to those whom we meet.