On this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, we remember the dedication of this day by Saint John Paul II in honor of St. Faustina’s vision of Christ, in which the Lord’s heart radiated forth with divine mercy for the world. But what does mercy mean? It designates the suffering of the heart, a type of compassion, a deep, loving identification with people in their suffering. It is the characteristic of God, for God is love. Nothing in the world would exist if it were not, at every moment, loved into being by God—a great act of tender mercy. How is this love made manifest in us? Precisely through following God’s commands and through forgiveness.
The resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples, fearful they were to be targeted next, to deliver a message of peace with a mission. This is the mission of the Church, to proceed in spreading the news about Christ imbued with the life-affirming, sin-forgiving power of the Holy Spirit. It's a mission that will connect us to God.
From the time of Marx, Feuerbach and Freud, we've heard the critique that religion is a wish-fulfilling fantasy, a game of "pie in the sky when you die." The readings for this second Sunday of Easter give the lie to this criticism, for they show how those who were convinced of Jesus' resurrection were also deeply commited to a more just society.
The risen Jesus breaks through the locked doors of our fears and brings us the Shalom (the full flourishing) that God wants for his people. Then he breathes into us the power and joy of the Holy Spirit and he sends us out to spread the good news.