2nd Sunday of Eastertide — Divine Mercy Sunday
Divine Mercy Sunday (also known as the Feast of the Divine Mercy) is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, which concludes the Octave of Easter. The feast day is observed by Roman Catholics as well as some Anglicans. It is originally based on the Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy that Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus, and is associated with special promises from Jesus and indulgences issued by the Catholic Church.
The feast of Divine Mercy, according to the diary of Kowalska, receives from Jesus the biggest promises of grace related to the Devotion of Divine Mercy, in particular that a person who goes to sacramental confession (the confession may take place some days before) and receives holy communion on that day, shall obtain the total expiation of all sins and punishment. That means each person would go immediately after death to heaven without suffering in purgatory. Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church grants a plenary indulgence (observing the usual rules) with the recitation of some simple prayers.
1 Jn 5:1-6
“Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.”
‘Doubting Thomas’ is a phrase I’m so used to hearing in the Catholic Church. I must admit that I was so quick to think that Thomas should have known better and just believed. Reading this passage again made me think otherwise. The other disciples, to whom Thomas said that he would only believe if he personally saw Jesus, actually already saw Jesus face to face. In fact, they told Thomas that they ‘have seen the Lord.’ It made me ponder if they would have said the same thing as Thomas said if they were in Thomas’s shoes — that they would only believe if they have seen the Lord. So I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised that Thomas said those words.
On another level, I think this passage is an invitation to us to recognize that we are all invited to a personal relationship with God. It’s true that we grow in faith through the witnesses of other people but, at the end of the day, our relationship with God is uniquely ours and God’s alone. Each one of us is invited to have that personal encounter with God. And it is this personal encounter that defines our relationship with him.
Just like Thomas, Jesus is inviting us to put our fingers in his wounds. Just like Thomas, Jesus is inviting us to touch his hands. Just like Thomas, Jesus would like to have that personal connection, that personal touch with us so he can tell us to ‘doubt no longer but believe.’
So what does this mean for us? Personally, I think it is an invitation to see God as a person who we can have a real relationship with. He is not just ‘up there’. He is not just a prayer away. He is actually personally beside us at our every waking moment, waiting for us to connect with Him.
It also means that each one of us becomes a true believer when have that relationship with God. I always have to remind myself of this. As a catechist, I sometimes get so caught up preparing for sessions and thinking of the best way to present to make others understand and know God. However, what really converts peoples’ hearts is their personal encounter with God that makes God real in their lives. They may believe through our witnessing, but that is just the beginning. Each one of us needs to have that real relationship with God.
It made me realize that there are really very few things I can influence as a catechist. And that changed my prayer for the kids. I started praying that they would encounter God, that they could connect to God. I will do my best. I’ll be an instrument, but the music that will touch another’s soul is from God alone. Perhaps, this is the prayer we all should be praying for when we want someone to convert — that they will have that encounter with God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me have that personal encounter with you. And I pray, Lord, that (name) will also experience the joy of having a personal encounter with you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for wanting to be so close to me, for desiring to have a personal relationship with me.
Stephanie, thank you so much for this reflection. Especially for both these prayers. They are two that I will save and pray every day.