2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), Cycle B

Today’s readings remind us why today, Divine Mercy Sunday, it is the Risen Christ, once crucified, now glorious, who brings us peace. If we do not experience peace and communion we need to examine ourselves to see from where those divisions and turbulence arise; they do not come from Our Lord.

In today’s First Reading we see the budding Church experiencing peace and communion in everything. Anyone who was in need received aid, and they shared everything they had. The Apostles not only taught them gladly, but also guided them and healed them with their “power.” The apostles preaching centers on the Resurrection of Christ, in part because of what we’ll consider in today’s Gospel. It was their experience of peace given by the Risen Christ that made them his ministers of that same peace.

In today’s Second Reading St. John reminds us that by loving God and obeying his commandments we are sure to love others and conquer the worldliness that tries to separate us from God and others. It is worldliness that robs us of peace and communion. Believing in Our Lord as the Son is the key to turning our backs on a world that often tries to divide us and isolate us in selfishness. In Saint John’s writing the “world” almost invariably refers to all the forces opposed to Christ, his teaching, and our faith.

If Our Lord brings peace and communion, divisions and turbulence can only come from the world. The world is not just something “out there”; a spirit of worldliness often tests us. As much as the world tries to claim otherwise, the teachings of Our Lord bring peace to a troubled world and to troubled consciences. This process is not easy. Saint John insists that Our Lord did not just have to pass through water, but blood as well. He was baptized, but he also had to take up his cross and struggle all the way to Calvary. So do we. Saint John also reminds us that the Holy Spirit helps us identify and check the worldliness that always tries to afflict us.

The Risen Lord shows his wounds today in the Gospels to the disciples and says, “Peace be with you.” They’d all abandoned him when he needed them. Showing those wounds could have been to shame them, but Jesus wanted to communicate a message of mercy, not condemnation. Sometimes we forget that we’ve been forgiven. Jesus in showing his wounds today says, in a sense, “what happened, happened, but be at peace, I forgive you.”

Every sin we commit wounds Our Lord, and if we don’t realize that, obviously we’re not going to be asking mercy from anyone, and not showing much mercy when others hurt us. Conversion means realizing we’ve gone off-track and hurt people along the way, including the people we love. Our Lord is always waiting for us to turn back to him and accept his peace to get back on track. In every sacrament of Confession we acknowledge that we’ve hurt Christ and hurt others: we acknowledge the wounds we’ve inflicted and Christ tells us to be at peace, because all is forgiven.

Our Lord gives the Apostles a special gift of the Holy Spirit today to become his ministers of peace, reconciliation, and communion. It’s the Risen Lord who makes this possible. If Our Lord were simply dead and gone, or ascended straight away without appearing to his disciples, we’d never truly know if he’d have forgiven us. He returned, Risen, and his first words were words of peace and a desire to share that peace with others. He sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins, a forgiveness that brings peace.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Reconciliation with God and reconciliation with others are two sides of the same coin. Show your appreciation for divine mercy this week by asking someone you’ve hurt or wronged for forgiveness.

Readings: Acts 4:32–35; Psalm 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24; 1 John 5:1–6; John 20:19–31.