Why is the Second Sunday of Easter known as Divine Mercy Sunday? The Second Sunday of Easter is actually the final day of the octave of Easter, the eight days during which the liturgical feast of Easter is celebrated as if it were all a singular day. The Gospel for this Sunday takes place on the evening of that first Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, when he appears to his disciples in the locked room and says to them, “Peace be with you,” and gives them his own authority to forgive sins in his name; “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (Jn 20:22).”
Pope St. John Paul II, in seeing the connection between Easter and Divine Mercy said this, “Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity.” Indeed, true peace can only be experienced by the power of forgiveness, which is a divine gift given in the face of the rejection and murder of God’s own Beloved. As St. Peter preached, we killed the Author of life (Acts 3:15), but that Author comes back and bestows his divine peace upon us.
The Feast of Divine Mercy is a relatively new feast, coming from St. Faustina’s (1905-1938) mystical encounters with Jesus which are recounted in her diary (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul). In it, Jesus shares with her this message:
“My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My mercy.” (Diary, 699)
Jesus also gave instructions to St. Faustina to aid us in truly celebrating this feast: go to Holy Communion on that Sunday and entrusting ourselves to his mercy; make a good Confession in preparation for the feast; priests should clearly proclaim the message of Divine Mercy; the Divine Mercy image given to St. Faustina should be publicly venerated on the feast; and finally, we need to be merciful to others, through our actions, words, and prayers.
To conclude, I thought I would leave you with this simple way to remember the message of Divine Mercy: A-B-C
A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that all the graces of His mercy can only be received by our trust. The more we open the door of our hearts and lives to Him with trust, the more we can receive.
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!
Fr. Brian Trueman