In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul II declared this Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday at the Mass of canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska. In giving this designation to the Second Sunday of Easter, the Pope was asking the church to live Easter faith through the essence of mercy. Just one year later the terrorist attacks of September 11th set in motion a world bent on a violence that we never would have anticipated. How do we cultivate mercy when our natural anger seeks revenge or at the very least retribution for the pain that has been inflicted?
Pope John Paul II answered that question through his faith in action when he forgave the man who attempted to assassinate him. The now famous picture of the Pope sitting in a prison cell holding the hand of his attempted assassin was not simply an example of human mercy but divine mercy. It is only through prayer and the deepening of one’s relationship with Christ that mercy begins to feel right and good. The resurrected Christ enters the upper room in today’s gospel he bestows the gift of peace on his shaken disciples. Through our prayer, we seek to be in that same upper room with Christ who is mercy himself. We seek Christ’s gift of peace so that we can cultivate that kind of mercy in our hearts. No one of us wants to perpetuate pain; yet it is so difficult to dispense mercy without a deepening of our awareness of the divine mercy of God who so loved the world he gave his only Son.
Today the church celebrates the beatification of Pope John Paul II. We honor him with this designation and we pray that through the intercession of Blessed John Paul we may heal our world through faithful acts of mercy.
Will there be healing? Or will peace begin to bloom? Blessed John Paul II pray for us.