Divine Mercy Sunday | Year A

Posted on April 14, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

“Peace be with you.” In Rabbinic Hebrew this is a standard greeting. It’s a formula of revelation given at more solemn moments. And the big reveal is “I forgive you” for abandoning me; said with no explanation or blaming; he just repeats “Peace…” which is expansive and conquering of hearts and minds.

Forgive everybody today; it’s personal, meaning different things to different people. But in general, it involves an intentional decision to let go of resentment and anger.1

Resting in the arms of God alone; forgiveness and redemption of all debt/sins which became the Biblical basis of divine mercy through Jesus Christ through the wounds and the pierced Heart of the Savior; from scars into stars, as doubting Thomas learns today.

To illustrate:

 “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” said Thomas to the others.

A boy named Tommy couldn’t have put it better himself. “If only I could see his body,” Tommy thought to himself. “If only I could touch his body.” That’s the way we Thomas people are.

Tommy became fixated on this one idea. “If I could just see Jesus, if I could just touch his body, then I would believe.” He was still pondering this when Sophia, his sister, began to prepare to receive Holy Communion. And then Tommy’s thoughts were interrupted by the priest holding up the broken consecrated host of bread turned into Body and announcing, “Behold the lamb of God….”

Tommy couldn’t see Jesus in the miracles. But when he saw in the broken host somewhat pieced-back-together, a picture of Jesus’ body broken and scarred for him emerged, he suddenly understood what it was to see Jesus. He understood why doubting Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” as many do at that point in the Mass.2

Today on Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus says to us through St. Faustina, “The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.”

The promise of today is the forgiveness of all personal sins and any temporal punishment due to them so the soul cleansed on the Feast of Mercy is like the soul of a newly baptized. It’s the grace of second Baptism.

Speaking of confession, Jesus breathed on the apostles, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21–23).

The grammar in the Greek is that the condition of the forgiveness of sins is not necessarily prior like “God already forgave, and so do I; it’s just being proclaimed now to you,”—that is actually what all Christians can do; but the Greek says that, for the apostles, Jesus gave them the power to forgive future sins too.

Grounds for retention of sin include – denying that sins are sins; not being sorry for offending God by sin; no willingness to give up sin; etc. Then the priest retains, that is withholds absolution because the person has to go “back to the drawing board” or “hit bottom” before they are ready to confess for real.

Prophecy: Jesus told St. Faustina that this Feast of Mercy would be a very special day when “all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened”. (Diary 699) 

God is automatically both just and merciful but, for us, granting mercy is voluntary that shapes all relationships.

(1)            Mayo Clinic online.

(2)            Adapted from: Not Gullible; But Skeptical, John 20:19-31, King Duncan.