As St. John Paul II put it, “Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity.” We will first see in today’s Gospel how Jesus bestows on us the gift of Divine Mercy.
As we have mentioned before, the Risen Lord has the office of consoling. This is why Jesus opening words are, “Peace be with you.”
The disciples needed peace for three reasons. They had sinned, some by denying him, others by running away, they were depressed and hesitant in their faith, and the Jews were persecuting them.
While we notice the words of Jesus, let us place ourselves in the upper room with the apostles. We also need to hear this greeting. Let us taste the sweetness of these words as directed to us personally.
Then “he showed them his hands and his side.” We want not only to listen but to see. The sight of the precious wounds of the Lord is glorious indeed! Seeing the holes in his hands and his side fills us with the confidence of receiving his Mercy. Those are the marks of the Passion, the source of our forgiveness.
The effect of the greeting and the sight of Jesus’ wounds is instantaneous, “the disciples rejoiced.” We must repeatedly beg during the Easter Season to rejoice with Christ for the glory of the Resurrection.
Jesus repeated the greeting, and breathing on the disciples said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”
It is clear to me from today’s Gospel that we have three notions that are closely connected: his wounds (the Passion), his peace, and the forgiveness of sins. We could summarize all of this in one concept: Divine Mercy.
In her Diary, St. Faustina Kowalska records an extraordinary promise given to her by Jesus. He told her to communicate it to the whole world, “My Daughter, tell the whole world of My unfathomable Mercy. I want the Feast of Mercy to be a refuge and sanctuary for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the depths of My Mercy are open; I pour out a whole sea of graces on souls that approach the fount of My Mercy. Any soul that makes its Confession and receives Holy Communion will have its sins and its punishment completely remitted. On that day are open all the Divine floodgates through which graces flow; let no soul fear to approach Me, even if its sins be as scarlet. My Mercy is so great that through all eternity no mind, neither human nor angelic, shall fathom it. Everything that exists has come forth from the depths of My Mercy. Every soul in its relation with Me shall contemplate the whole of My love and Mercy for all eternity. The Feast of Mercy has come from My depths, and I want it celebrated officially on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind shall not know peace until it turns to the fount of My Mercy (Diary, 699).”
Let us honor Jesus today by receiving Holy Communion in the state of grace, and with great trust in his Divine Mercy.
This last condition of trust is critical. Jesus told St. Faustina, “The graces of My Mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive (Diary, 1578).”
Today is our opportunity to jump into the ocean of Jesus’ Divine Mercy. Why not take advantage of this generous invitation of the Risen Lord?