Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus sends Thomas the message that He forgives him for his disbelief in the Resurrection despite reliable eyewitnesses. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with family, friends and church groups.
The Forgiveness of Sins
We see the apostles, imprisoned and bound by fear, have locked themselves into the upper room. Then "Jesus came and stood before them. He breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.' "
Fr. Alex Mcallister points out that the first part of this Reading reading is generally taken as the scriptural basis for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. By Christ's will, Father Cusick explains, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance. Through the gift of faith we believe that the Risen Lord also breathes the Holy Spirit into us. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. reminds us that we the church are sent into a sinful world to bring forgiveness, not only as priests through the sacrament of reconciliation, but as disciples who are present anywhere there is need of forgiveness.
So if you have a problem with the Church intruding on what you think ought to be just between you and God, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says you’ll have to take that one up with Jesus Himself. It was clearly His idea.
Faith, Doubt and St. Thomas
On Easter Sunday the Master forgave the apostles for running out on Him Good Friday. This Sunday, Fr. James Gilhooley tells us, Jesus absolves Thomas for his disbelief. He gave them all a second chance. Thomas had always belonged to Jesus. Yes he was cynical, but when he got the practical proof he needed, Fr. John Foley, S.J. explains, he sank to the ground in heart-moving surrender. Do you believe the resurrected Jesus will not also give us a second chance?
Many times we enter into a period of anger at God and a time of doubts. Fr. Ron Rolheiser asks the same questions we ask. Why does God stay hidden. Why doesn’t God reveal himself so concretely and physically that no one could doubt his existence? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we should not feel bad about having crises in faith. We should feel very human. We should also realize that our crisis can lead us to an even stronger faith. Jesus breathed life onto His disciples, a group of people who were faithful to Him. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. aptly reminds us that Jesus can also breathe new life into us, people who carry on that faith.
Thomas rediscovered his faith amidst the believing community of apostles and disciples. This point must never be forgotten, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through our baptism, we become members of this great family of the Church. It is precisely the faith professed by the ecclesial community we call Church that reinforces our personal faith.
Divine Mercy of Jesus
Our Psalm this Sunday says, "His mercy endures forever." St. Peter reminds us that we received a new birth because of God's "great mercy." And in today's Gospel the Risen Jesus gives mercy as His first gift: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them..." Divine Mercy summarizes the message of the Bible and gift of our Savior.
So what exactly is “mercy” anyway, and what does it have to do with the Easter season? Several years ago, the Catholic Church declared the Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the merciful love of God shining through the Easter Triduum and the whole Easter mystery. The feast recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called "the days of mercy and pardon," and the Octave Day itself "the compendium of the days of mercy."
Perhaps the fact that we are able to forgive those who trespass against us is the surest sign that our faith is not illusion, but that we truly do live in the Spirit of Christ and His Divine Mercy.
Blessed John Paul the Great
In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina
-- making her the first canonized saint of the new millennium -- and
established "Divine Mercy Sunday" as a special title for the Second
Sunday of Easter for the universal Church. This Sunday, April 27, 2014, the man who canonized more saints than any other pope in modern history will himself be canonized a saint together with another pope, Blessed John XXIII
Today, on the day that the Church proclaims blessed this great apostle of mercy and peace, let us remember with affection and deep gratitude the stirring words that John Paul II spoke at the concluding Mass of World Youth Day 2002 at Downsview Park in Toronto. These words keep us focused on the importance and necessity of mercy in the Church today:
"At difficult moments in the Church's life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit... Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son."
This Sunday Fr. Phil Bloom encourages us to ask the intercession of Blessed John Paul the Great that we would know deeply what we heard in the Psalm: "His mercy endures."
Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, indeed as the "great Lord's Day". Are there any tips on resources or ideas we can offer for continuing the Easter celebration with your family for the entire season? Fr. John Bartunek shares his "50 Days of Celebrating Easter."
When we encounter the Resurrection accounts in the New Testament we face a challenge in putting all the pieces together in a way that the sequence of the events flow in logical order. How did events progress from the day of Resurrection to Christ's Ascension to Pentecost? Msgr. Charles Pope proposes to you a possible, even likely, sequence of the Resurrection events.
Parish Life, Prayer and the Holy Eucharist
Too many Catholics hear a disturbing sermon at their parish and simply move on to another parish. Elizabeth Scalia opines that running away from a parish with a disoriented pastor dooms one’s fellow parishioners—especially if they have been poorly Catechized. She argues that such actions cannot build up the Body of Christ.
A recent Pew Research Center study found that 10 percent of all Americans — 10 percent! — are former Catholics. So, what can a parent or sibling or cousin do to help his fallen-away family members return to the Church’s fold? Here's how to respond when a loved one leaves the Church. Use these fundamental principles to help the former Catholics in our families reconsider the Church.
Jeniffer Fulwiller looked at the lives of people who have redically placed their trust in God. She found it fascinating to see what common threads could be found in the lives of these incredible people. She shares the seven prayer habits of these saintly people, in case others find it inspiring as well. Judith Costello compliments this. She says that while it may seem as if God is far away and it may seem impossible to really know Him, it is possible to really get to KNOW Him. And it requires several things. She explains with her blog post "Know Him!"
And Peter Kreeft concludes what he feels is the central problem of the Church today: most of the generation now becoming adults simply do not know Jesus Christ. As an example, he shares his conversation with a Muslim and how this non-Christian unwittingly offered him important lessons about his own practice of Eucharistic Adoration.
Rising Gas Prices and Personal Debt
I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline. But here in California we are paying up to $3.75 to $4.10 per gallon. Anthony Duk shares an email from someone who has worked in the petroleum industry for 31 years now. They offer some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon you pump at the filling station.
Finally, if you feel you're not winning the war on your personal debt, this one's for you: 80 Ways to Be Frugal and Save Money.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a Spirit-filled and blessed Eastertide.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: What is Faith?
FEATURED BLOG: How to respond when a loved one leaves the Church
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Resurreccion nos trae el regalo de la misericordia
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