A GOSPEL REFLECTION FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY (John 20:19-31):
“THE MERCY OF GOD CREATES ANEW”
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
(John 20: 22-23)
Dear friends in Christ, the cry for forgiveness by the psalmist in psalm 51: 10-11 which many of us are conversant with, gives meaning to the phrase alighted above. The psalmist said:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew your Spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
From the foregoing, we discover that the Holy Spirit of God has a strong connection with the forgiveness of sins. In the creed we profess, we say: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from th father and the Son…” This same Holy Spirit is identified today in today’s gospel according to John as the “breath of life”. The gospel passage says: “He ‘breathed’ on them”. The same breath is what we encounter in the book of Genesis 2:7; that is, after shaping man from the soil of the earth, Yahweh breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life, and man became a living being. This breath of life, my dear friends, is the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
This becomes clear as John indicates the words of Christ while breathing on them. Christ said: “receive the Holy Spirit…”; and gave them the mandate to forgive sins, saying: “whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain, are retained. This indicates that the Holy Spirit, responsible for the forgiveness of sins, renews and recreates us, gives life to our dying souls soiled by sin whenever we approach “the laundry of the Holy Spirit”, that is, the Sacrament of Confession.
Dear friends, Christ has risen from the dead, and thus, desires to give us “New Life” through the Holy Spirit. Today, as in commemmoration, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Confession, a sacrament that reconciles us with God and with our neighbour. A Sacrament that gives life to our dying souls soiled by sin. A sacrament of “peace”.
Today, the Holy Mother Church celebrates the “Divine Mercy Sunday”; a point in time to pause and reflect on the abundance mercy of God; for his mercy endures forever (Ps. 118; also Ps. 136). The is exactly what the Responsorial Psalm of today expresses. We are called to continue to reflect on this mercy of God in our day to day lives. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, identifies the name of God as “Mercy” in his book titled: “The Name of God is Mercy”. This speaks of our God as full of compassion, slow to anger and rich in mercy (cf. Ps. 118, Ps145:8; Ps. 103: 8; Exodus 34:6, Ps. 86:15). If such is our God, then we his children must be very privileged (what is man that you keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him…: ps. 8).
(SEE ALSO: THE END OF OCTAVE OF EASTER; WHY IS IT CALLED AN OCTAVE?)
Dear friends, how great is our numerous sins compared to the mercy of God? God is never tired of having mercy on us; however, we on our part are tired of seeking his mercy. This reflection continues to make sense in this beautiful YEAR OF MERCY; a period that offers us the opportunity to approach God more intimately, to understand in a more profound way the mercy of God; to draw life from the Spirit of God and be made anew; to carry our the works of mercy, and be merciful ourselves (“blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”- Mtt. 5:7). Dear friends, when last did we confess our sins at the laundry of the Holy Spirit? How much do we value this Sacrament?
Let us, like the prodigal son, “arise” from our “dead” state and return to our merciful Father, for He is full of love and compassion, for his mercy endures forever.
Oh that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your heart…
HAPPY DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY TO YOU ALL!!!