Happy Easter! Yes, Easter is such a foundational feast of our faith, which the Church continues to celebrate it for about seven weeks. Each of these Sundays are named 2nd Sunday of Easter, 3rd Sunday of Easter, etc. The power of Easter has transformed the face of the earth as believers began to increase and Christianity began to spread all over the world. The early Christians themselves were the best missionaries to their own neighbors and friends, sharing the power of the Resurrected Jesus to bring about change of hearts. It still continues to happen in our own times.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday – a feast instituted by St. John Paul II, in order to realize the depth of the mercy of God for each one of us personally. Sister Faustina, who had revelations about this desire from Jesus, wrote the words of Jesus in her diary entry # 206: “On the day of My feast, the Feast of Mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of My mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them”.
Some have asked me: “Father, are we bound to believe in such revelations to individuals like St. Faustina?” Let me answer with a quote from the most authoritative document of the Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history” (#67).
Thus the Church is very clear that the revelations experienced by Saint Faustina were of a private nature, which are not essential to anyone’s acceptance of the Catholic faith. And yet the Church promotes this popular devotion because God’s loving mercy, the focus of Divine Mercy Sunday, is the very heart of the gospel. So we see that the devotion to Divine Mercy in no way replaces any of our rich liturgical traditions or faith. The Divine Mercy devotion fosters the virtue of trust in God’s mercy that finds its fulfillment in the liturgy of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
And yet, today’s gospel is about doubting the resurrection of Jesus by one of his own disciples! Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and reservations about our faith, first by verbalizing our doubts and trying to get answers from those who know, and second by surrendering our lives to the Risen Lord of Mercy.
May the Resurrected Lord help us experience his mercy as we keep the season of Easter.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal