Second Sunday of Easter. Divine Mercy Sunday.

What is the truth about the resurrection? Jesus’ life, death and resurrection pointed us toward the source of all life, the source of the universe, of trees, of women and men, of marriage and offspring. Jesus was the river of love that God had poured into the world. He was now flowing back into the ocean of the Trinity and taking us along, whichever of us chooses to believe.

That is the resurrection.

Do you believe in it? If you do, then you believe that love is the foundation of life. Just put your finger into the mark of the nails, and put your hands into his side and you will find it. 

John Foley, SJ

 Sunday Readings

Acts 4: 32-35

Psalm 118: 'Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.' You might like this version from Youtube HERE

1 Jn 5:1-6

Jn 20:19-31

Do not be afraid - a key message

Fear exists in any person who is not experiencing the mercy of God in any moment. Pope Francis reminds us that Thomas arrived late but that the Lord did not abandon him. He came back the next week.

On this Feast of Divine Mercy last year Pope Francis concluded:

‘Dear brothers and sisters, in the time of trial that we are presently undergoing, we too, like Thomas, with our fears and our doubts, have experienced our frailty. We need the Lord, who sees beyond that frailty an irrepressible beauty. With him we rediscover how precious we are even in our vulnerability. … And if, like crystal, we are transparent before him, his light—the light of mercy—will shine in us and through us in the world.’

Pope Francis urges us to practise what the Church’s tradition calls the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. These works are not just pious feelings. They are concrete actions – we’ll get messy, we’ll get our hands dirty. Mercy is a verb, an action, mercy is something we do.  

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Mercy sister, Elizabeth Julian suggests that Mercy-Atawhai

is the beating heart of the entire Bible.

For example: Jesus’ command ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36) is basic to an understanding of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Likewise the beatitude ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matt 5:7) clearly connects the receiving of mercy with being merciful to others. Jesus wants works of mercy rather than piety (Matt 9:13; 12:7). We see this most clearly in the parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25:21-46).  

Paul’s letters provide us with a wonderful portrait of a man utterly and passionately convinced of God’s mercy in his own life. He explains to Timothy that because he has received God’s mercy for his past persecution of Christians, he can be an example for others (1 Tim 1:13-16). If he can receive mercy for his former deeds then anyone can. Paul acknowledges that it is God’s mercy that saves us, not something that we do (Titus 3:5). 

Paul’s understanding of God’s gift of mercy and our responsibility to be merciful is beautifully captured here: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (2 Cor 1:3-4)

 (From a talk to the interfaith forum Wellington 2016: 'Mercy - the beating heart of the Bible.')

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Brief background to Sunday of Divine Mercy

Helen Kowalska was born in Poland in 1905. She died as Sister Faustina in 1938. In 1931 she was living as a religious in the convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland. In February of that year she had a powerful and very real experience of Jesus calling her to spread the word of his overwhelming mercy for every human person. It was during the pontificate of fellow Pole, St Pope John Paul II, the life of this quiet nun and her mission was made known by the pope to the world.

St Faustina wrote beautifully of the mercy of God as a fountain of love gushing over all who acknowledge their frailty and need for God. This fountain of forgiveness cleanses all who turn back to God. This message is as necessary today as ever. We are in need for God’s forgiveness of our own sins.

This is the Easter life of Baptism. In the waters of baptism, and in the Sacraments of the Church where these waters continue to flow, God continues to deliver us from all that entombs us.

One thing is for sure: we cannot be that merciful presence unless we are already soaked in mercy.

We ourselves must be on the path of a liberating transformation before others can catch hope from us.

Being merciful is about being truly present to the daily human struggle to reach beyond the dark.

Daniel O’Leary.


Return of the pridgal son by Rembrandt van Rijn 2021 04 07 at 10.22.48 PM

Return of the prodigal son by Rembrandt van Rijn.

This story is also known as The Merciful Father.