Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, April 27, 2014
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
April 27, Second Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
2) 1 Peter 1:3-9
Gospel: John 20:19-31
The room is awash in candlelight. Jesus is exposed in the splendor of eucharistic form. Songs of praise come and go with silence in between. The sacrament of reconciliation is occurring in a side room with a steady stream of college-age penitents. It is a holy night, a blessed night, a night filled with the sweet mercy of God.
In the silent, darkened room I am beckoned by one of the young men on retreat. When I get over to him I lean down and he whispers to me, with tears in his eyes, "I'm free." He gestures with his hands like a huge weight has been lifted and repeats, "I'm free!" We hug and cry and then turn back to Jesus with feelings too deep for words.
Praise God that this is not a rare occurrence in the life of the church, yet there are still far too many who have yet to encounter Jesus in such a profound way. Scripture reminds us we have a God who is rich in mercy -- so rich that the offering of his son for the expiation of our sins, though costly, did not deplete his wealth.
This week's Gospel is a paramount example of this mercy.
First, Jesus appears to the apostles after his resurrection, gives them a gift of peace and then gives them the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. Later, when the previously absent Thomas doubts that this happened, Jesus shows him mercy and gives him the proof he seeks. Finally, in one of my favorite moments in the Gospels, Jesus -- in a sense praying for us -- says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
My former pastor, Father Richard Beaumont, once noted he often heard people say, "God is not fair." His response: "You are right. If God was fair I would be dead; instead, he is merciful!"
We encounter God's mercy in many ways, but none more profound than in the forgiveness of sin, whose wages are death.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday let us join in the ancient Eastern Christian prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
How have you encountered the mercy of God? How would you explain the mercy of God to a friend?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'" -- John 20:22-23
Copyright © 2014 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS Word To Life column may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service.