Date: Sunday, April 11, 2021
First Fridays of the month were special in the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bowmansville. We would gather for morning Mass and Sacred Heart devotions. What I remember best is the hot chocolate and pastries mothers served the students after Mass in our school cafeteria. Sacred Heart devotions are inspired by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French mystic, who had a vision of Jesus (1673) with a heart full of love for her, and for us.
Today, we gather on the 2nd Sunday of Easter, dedicated to Divine Mercy by Saint Pope John Paul II. JPII was inspired by Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish mystic, who heard the voice of Jesus. “I am love and mercy itself; there is no human misery that could measure up to my mercy.” Faustina saw two streams of light, blue and red, emanating from the heart of Jesus. In our 2nd reading, the Letter of John, the author speaks of the Son of God “who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ.” In the Gospel according to John, when the side of Jesus is pierced by a lance, water and blood flow out. Many see the water and blood as symbolic of the sacramental life of the church, Baptism and Eucharist.
It is good to have first Friday devotions and Divine Mercy Sundays to remind us to pray for God’s compassion and forgiveness and to afford the same to one another. The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, describes early Christians living cooperatively, sharing money and possessions with members of the community. “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” Saint Faustina wrote about such kindness in her diary. “Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.”
In our Gospel according to John, Jesus, the Risen Lord, appears to the disciples. Jesus greets them: “Peace be with you.” He then breathes on them, reminiscent of God blowing the breath of life into the nostrils of Adam in the 2nd creation story in the book of Genesis. Jesus infuses into the church at its conception his own compassion and mercy and entrusts the ministry of reconciliation.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we pray for God’s continued mercy on all of us. We pray to be inspired to act mercifully toward one another by sharing our resources and by asking for and granting forgiveness. Jesus, we trust in you.