April 23, 2017
2nd Sunday of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
It is one thing to doubt the fact that Jesus is risen, as Thomas did. We, however, are more likely to doubt the power flowing from that Resurrection, — a power that can keep us from sin. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, but mercy is not to be confused with presumption or permission to sin. In fact, it is precisely in giving us commandments that, as the second reading tells us, “are not burdensome,” that God shows his mercy. It is not simply our weakness that “God understands.” He understands, first of all, our need of him, and the fact that we flourish only by living a life in union with his will. Therefore, his mercy provides us with every ounce of strength we need to actually fulfill the commandments, which is the same as to fulfill the demands of love.
Love has concrete demands, beginning with a reverence and absolute respect for one another’s lives, and the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable in our midst. Actions that deliberately take innocent human life are always contrary to love. Yet “his commandments are not burdensome,” because by our faith in his Resurrection, we have the power to love as he loves, even to the point of sacrificing ourselves as he sacrificed himself.
Thomas found the strength to believe when he returned to the unity of the Church. Perhaps when Thomas was missing on Easter night, he was out looking for Jesus on his own. After all, he was the kind of person who wanted to see for himself. But he actually found Jesus only when he returned to be with Peter and the other apostles. We too will find the strength to believe, to carry out the commandments, and to respect every human life, when we maintain close unity with the Church, the community of believers built on the apostles.
– Priests for Life