Pastor's Corner

 

FROM FR. ALIMAJI’S DESK

 

Reflections on Divine Mercy 


fr alimajiThis 2nd Sunday of Easter has come to be known as the Divine Mercy Sunday (Weekend) since the Devotion to the Divine Mercy following the beatification of Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993, by Pope John Paul II. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy would be recited around the world at 3 p.m. this Sunday. Let us come and join in prayers in our parish church too. Devotees pray it daily at 3 p.m. My dear brothers and sisters, in our parish we combine the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Prayers, together with the devotions to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on First Fridays of the month. As we celebrate Divine Mercy, we realize that we are saved by God’s mercy, not because of anything we might have done. As St. Paul said: “… while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This teaching began with his assertion that “we have been justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1). This 2nd Sunday of Easter has come to be known as the Divine Mercy Sunday (Weekend) since the Devotion to the Divine Mercy following the beatification of Sr. Faustina on April 18, 1993, by Pope John Paul II. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy would be recited around the world at 3 p.m. this Sunday. Let us come and join in prayers in our parish church too. Devotees pray it daily at 3 p.m. My dear brothers and sisters, in our parish we combine the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Prayers, together with the devotions to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on First Fridays of the month. As we celebrate Divine Mercy, we realize that we are saved by God’s mercy, not because of anything we might have done. As St. Paul said: “… while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This teaching began with his assertion that “we have been justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1). 


     Last weekend we ritualized the resurrection event of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead. Let us continue telling the story! In different ways and measures we have unique experiences of the risen Lord, as it was for the apostles of the Lord themselves, who saw him die and he was buried. This Sunday was previously known as Low Sunday, after the highlights of Easter Sunday. We are now living in the mystagogical period of the events. We will continue to share our experiences of baptism into the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Mystagogy is a term unique in catechesis. 


      The outstanding Gospel story this Sunday is the first appearance of the Lord to his apostles, on that first day of the week, behind closed doors (cf. John 20:19-31). He showed himself to them as alive. The “first day of the week”, otherwise Sunday, has become the Day of the Lord for all Christians. It has taken the place of Sabbath for Judaism, the Jewish religion. The resurrection, the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances and the Pentecost turned Sunday to be our day of worship in fulfillment of keeping holy “the Sabbath day” (Ex. 20:8ff). For those who ask, these are why, for us Christians. Today we read the gospel of Christ’s commissioning of the Apostles to forgive each other’s sins by the divine power of God: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22-23). ‘The Council of Trent defined that this power to forgive sins is exercised in the sacrament of penance.’ (N. A. Bible commentary on this passage).By this we realize the authority of the priests to forgive sins for Christ’s sake “through the ministry of his Church” (Absolution Prayer).


      Therefore, the sacramental forgiveness of sins is the act of divine mercy, not because of any priest’s personal holiness. The sanctify of the priest is absolutely very important, and this ministry of hearing confessions is in this “Year for Priests” being emphasized, by declaring St. John Marie Vianney, the holy Cure of Ars, patron of priests.


     Thomas the twin was not present at the meeting of the Apostles on Easter Sunday, when the Lord made his first appearance. This Sunday when the Lord appeared again, St. Thomas’s doubt gave us the acclamation “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28), which we use at Mass at the elevation of the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. It also produced a blessing for us all who were not there to see the Lord physically. We did not see, but we believe. Faith in the risen Lord is what we have, and faith would bring us to salvation. With faith in the risen Lord the apostles performed the miraculous and divine healings   reported in the First Reading today (cf. Acts 5:12-16). Notice also that great numbers of men and women were added to the list of believers. This surely was as a result of telling the story. The Lord said to the disciples: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21). So, let us continue to tell the story of the risen Lord. For he said: “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever” (Rev. 1:17b-18), our Second Reading today. Would you want to share your own experience of the risen Lord? How much faith do you have in the mercy of God for you? Would you doubt divine forgiveness? What has made this Easter unique for you? From now on we would be reflecting on the Lord’s appearances. Take special note of each appearance. Rejoice in the Lord always!