On this Second Sunday of Easter we conclude the Octave (Latin for “8 days”) of Easter, taken from the ancient Roman custom of celebrating major feasts for an entire week following the actual feast day. The custom was copied by the church as a way of building another bridge between Christian faith and the pagan religions of the Roman world.
Since the papacy of St. John Paul II, the Second Sunday of Easter is also celebrated as “Divine Mercy” Sunday. The message and devotion;, based on the writings of St. Faustina. a Polish nun who wrote a diary recording revelations she received beginning in 1931. The message revealed to her is that God’s love for us is so great that it obliterates all of our sins. All we need to do is call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and allow ourselves to become vessels through which that mercy can flow out to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.
During the course of the revelations, Jesus asked that the Sunday after Easter be given this designation. Given that the Scriptures assigned to this day include a description of the works of mercy performed by the earliest believers (first reading) and the risen Christ’s command to His disciples to forgive sins (Gospel), this Sunday is perfectly suited to fulfill His request.
The earliest and most prominent element of the devotion is the Image. On February 21, 1931 Jesus appeared to St. Faustina with reddish and whitish rays radiating from His heart. These rays symbolize the blood which flowed from Our Lord’s side as He hung on the cross; and the water of baptism which cleanses us of the effects of sin.
The Divine Mercy Chaplet, a series of novena like Prayers is usually prayed at 3:00 PM on Divine Mercy Sunday in remembrance of the hour tradition holds that Jesus died on the cross the ultimate act of Divine Mercy; but the chaplet can be prayed anytime, any day, anywhere.
It is mort appropriate for us to take some time today to reflect upon this great gift of God’s mercy. By doing so may we open ourselves to receive it from Him, and like the image radiate it out to others, so that we, the people bound to Christ in the Eucharist. might draw more people to Him as His mercy draws us closer to Him and one another!
In His Love,