Suffering is part of the path to glory

By | April 26, 2011

The solemnity of Easter is so significant in the life of the church, and the mysteries we celebrate are so profound, that this feast lasts for 50 days. So today is not the Sunday AFTER Easter, but the second Sunday OF Easter.

The readings for these next six Sundays are very focused. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the church. Today we hear about the characteristics of the early Christian community: They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the communal life, to the breaking of bread (the Eucharist) and prayer.

We just completed our diocesan visioning process and described “vibrant parish communities.” I wonder how closely our descriptions match those of the early church?

The second reading will be from the letter of St. Peter. We hear his basic preaching about Jesus, but also his words of encouragement to the early community, reminding them that they are called to a new way of life, but also, that suffering is part of the path to glory. Today, Peter reminds us that God, in his great mercy, gave us new birth and a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus.

The Gospel describes Christ’s institution of the sacrament of penance — the sacrament of mercy and forgiveness: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”

The focus on God’s mercy in today’s readings may have been the reason Pope John Paul II designated the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy devotion stems from a private revelation to a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska. Beginning in 1931 she received a series of revelations. In her diary she kept a record of the content of the revelations, the image of Jesus she saw with two rays radiating from his heart and his expressed desire that people know the great mercy of God. The devotion spread in Poland and the feast was celebrated there on the second Sunday of Easter. On April 30, 2000, at the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul extended the feast of Divine Mercy to the universal church calendar.

There is a novena and a chaplet connected with this devotion, but these are NOT part of the church’s liturgy that day. Those who want to participate in the Divine Mercy devotion pray privately or gather together in the afternoon for the final prayers of the novena which began on Good Friday and the chaplet of divine mercy.

As we continue to celebrate this great feast of Easter, we rejoice in the mercy of God which is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus: a mercy that is greater than our sin and is meant to be received and to be extended to others.

Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top