April 24—Second Sunday of Easter & Sunday of Divine Mercy
Readings: Acts 5: 12-16; Psalm 118, R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; Gospel—John 20: 19-31
“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of others.” (Fr. James Keenan, SJ)
This eloquent and powerful definition of mercy captures one of the essential qualities of God’s love. This love, we encountered in the Incarnation of Jesus: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance.” (Philippians 2:7)
Then time and again, He entered specific human situations—sickness, physical and spiritual hunger, struggling with sin, death—moved with compassion, and performed miracles which were themselves signs of God’s compassion.
Gift of peace
Let me propose three points for our reflection coming for his commissioning of his disciples in today’s Gospel.
First, His gift of peace, “Peace be with you.” Second, the missioning itself, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” Third, the gift of the Spirit that empowers us to do His works: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Peace. A most wonderful greeting that stills the chaos of our mind, heart and spirit. It is a greeting, a wish, a prayer, a blessing.
In the context of the Resurrection appearances, it stills the confusion, pain and despair of the Cross. It is the pivot from darkness to light, from struggling with evil to resting once more in the presence and love of Jesus.
One key rule of St. Ignatius’ discernment process is, one must always attain a state of equanimity to be able to see clearly and choose well. This is the peace of the Risen Lord. This enables as to act right.
The missioning here reminds us that all Christian mission is a sharing in the missions of Jesus, who was sent by the Trinity in the mystery of the Incarnation. Thus, inherent in our mission is to enter the lives of the people we are sent to.
Day by day
All mission is a mission of mercy, to bring and to witness to the mercy of God into the lives of people to empower them, to accompany them in making meaning out of their chaos.
Our mission must share in the mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus entering our world, our lives. It must also constantly be an imitation of Jesus’ life and ministry, so the grace “to see, to love and to follow him day by day.” And, finally, it must find fulfillment in living the pattern of Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection in our life.
“Receive the Holy Spirit …” ushers in the age of the Spirit of the Church. We, as members of the Church, live in the age of the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
This is one area of growth for us, individually and communally, to be more aware of the gift of the Spirit in our present age and to allow the Spirit to guide us and be the presence of the Risen Lord in our day to day life.
The Spirit also empowers us to perform the “basic action” of our mission, the mission of the Church—to continue the saving mission of Jesus, to forgive sins, to heal the brokenness of humanity and the world, on the one hand, and on the other hand, to serve justice to those who refuse the mercy of God.
“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of others.” It is the love and mercy of God that we always bring into the chaos of others. —CONTRIBUTED