OC 087 Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter) Catechism

Our Lord’s explicit desire is that this feast be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. This Sunday is designated in “The Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist” as the “Octave Day of Easter.” It was officially called the Second Sunday of Easter after the liturgical reform of Vatican II. Now, by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the name of this liturgical day has been changed to: “Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday.” ‘Now On Throughout the Church’, Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. There, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’ “

The Pope canonized a Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, whose life carried a mission of sharing the Lord’s divine mercy for the world. In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 20:19-31), we meet the Apostle Thomas, known as “the doubter” for his hesitation to believe the first-hand accounts of Jesus’ resurrection from his fellow apostles. Thomas, then, has his own divine encounter with the Risen Lord, the Divine Mercy Himself.

Many are familiar with the image our Lord asked St. Maria Faustina Kowalska to have painted in his memory  — The Divine Mercy.  There are different popular versions in circulation, but they all show the Divine Mercy image of Jesus portrayed with two rays coming from his heart.  The rays symbolize the blood and water that flowed from his side (Cf. John 19:34) after the lance was thrust into Jesus on the cross. The diary of St. Faustina describes it this way: “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls (Divine Mercy in My Soul, par. 299.)”

CCC 1225: The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the blood and water at the cross reflect the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.Further, St. Ambrose, a great Church Father and Doctor wrote: “See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him yOu are redeemed, in him you are saved.”

The Divine Mercy image reflects Jesus’ post-resurrection body.  In the image we see the scars from the nails of his crucifixion; he appears able to walked through locked doors.  His wounds remain but his body is indeed different and very much full of life.

CCC 645 gives a fuller explanation of what is known as the “glorified body” of Christ:

By means of touch… the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them… to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.

Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.

We don’t really know if Thomas ever really traced the nail prints on Jesus’ hands or the wound in his side. Scripture does not reveal that detail. But we do know what followed… Thomas no longer doubted. His encounter with the Risen Lord led him to declare Jesus as his Lord and God.  View this link to the Eternal Work Television Network (EWTN) documentation on the Divine Mercy Sunday and devotions: catechism on Divine Mercy Sunday and devotions, be sure to tune into the Divine Mercy Chaplet on the above site and pray along.



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