Gospel Reflections

Gospel for Divine Mercy Sunday, 28th April 2019

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John 20:19-31

This Sunday is traditionally called Low Sunday but also Divine Mercy Sunday since St. John Paul II has dedicated the feast. It is a day in which we can particularly reflect on God’s Mercy for us, on the love of Him who has sacrificed Himself for us on the Cross. This beautiful mystery which we have celebrated with the Easter Triduum and the sacrifice of Jesus to forgive us our sins leading to his conquering death to the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday in which He allows us to share in His Divine life. During Easter Week the Church celebrates Easter each day, during what is called the Octave of Easter.

Let’s have a brief look at an aspect of mercy. Mercy signifies grief for another’s distress. It moves into action to share and take away what is the distress of another. This is what God wants to do. To remove the alienation caused by the fall and by our own sins. To remove the barriers which we have put up. God wants to remove the sufferings and distress in our lives; to remove the sense of being lost, the loneliness; the sense of a distance that we experience as a result. Mercy is something supernatural. Mercy is given unconditionally. It is Jesus who became one of us in order to give mercy to us all. If we only accept the gift then He will give from His abundance more then we could ever expect.

It is good to note however that we are all on a journey, and we are all at different stages of in our spiritual life. But Jesus always meets us where we are at. This Sunday’s Gospel is a clear expression of that. Thomas, who was not with the other disciples, did not believe the report that Jesus was alive and had met the other disciples. When the following week Jesus appears to them again He does not rebuke Thomas but ask Him to “Put your hands here… doubt no longer but believe”. When I opened my heart the first time to God He met me at that point, the point of a sceptic who was not inclined to believe God even existed. But gently He allowed me to see the path He had in mind for me and started leading me in the right direction.

God wants to lead us on the way to happiness. Through accepting His mercy and accept that participation of Him in our lives we can slowly grow in understanding of what this way exactly is. Our faith grows through grace and slowly but surely we really start to perceive where God is in our lives.

It is amazing how God can really affect us. But we need to create this space, and have an openness of heart. If we feel we have gone away from God, go and encounter Him in the sacraments of His mercy. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus breathes upon the Apostles and gives them the Holy Spirit to be His mediators on earth and to dispense His mercy as such in the sacrament of reconciliation. If we find it difficult to deepen our understanding of God, or don’t know how to do it, pray and ask God to help to understand. Talk with friends about it or seek spiritual direction. God is there, He wants to touch all our lives. Once He does, our lives will never be the same again.

Fr Luuk Jansen  OP