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Scripture reflection: Divine Mercy Sunday

02 April 2018

Lectionary reading

First reading: Acts 4:32-35.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 117(118):2-4, 15-18, 22-24.

Second reading: 1 John 5:1-6.

Gospel: John 20:19-31.

Link to readings.

Introduction

Since 2000, at the instigation of Pope John Paul II, the Roman Catholic church has kept the Feast of Divine Mercy on the Sunday after Easter.

The readings, however, are still bathed in the joy of the Resurrection.

In the First Reading we see the effect the Risen Lord has on the life of the young Christian communities, led and guided by the Apostles.

The Psalm joyfully shows that Jesus, through his Resurrection, is the rejected cornerstone first mentioned by Isaiah (Isaiah 28: 16).

St John is his letter (Second Reading) reminds his readers that the true believer is the one who loves God by keeping his commandments – that is, by loving one another as he loved us. Jesus, fully man and fully God, was baptised by water but shed his blood forus.

In the multi-faceted Gospel text, we encounter the Risen Lord twice, as well as the Holy Spirit and the disbelieving Thomas. We are reminded of Jesus’s patience and infinite mercy; we are also able to witness at first - hand the transformation of Thomas and his deep act of faith as he comes to believe that the Lord is truly risen.

This week, I may want to pray particularly for all the ‘Doubting Thomases’ around me, and ask the Risen Lord that, in his mercy, he shows them his hands and feet so they may come to believe too.

First Reading

Acts 4: 32–35

How am I feeling as I come to pray today?

Still full of Easter joy ... or weighed down by everyday worries ... or…?

Whatever it is, I trust that the Risen Lord is with me. He knows and understands me fully.

After adopting a position which keeps me relaxed but alert, I take a deep breath, and then read the text slowly, stopping and pondering where the words particularly catch my attention.

When I read this idealised picture of the new Christian communities,

I may feel drawn to compare it with today’s society ... smaller units of isolated communities ... extended families ... churches struggling to survive.

In what ways are they similar? What makes them different?

The apostles act as guides and reminders of the power of the Resurrection.

To whom do I turn when I need a guide or someone to witness to the presence of the Risen Jesus in my life?

In my own words, I tell the Lord what is in my heart.

Perhaps I consider those around me who are in need of help, whether material or spiritual.

In what ways, however small, can I be more at one with them? How can I show them that the Lord’s mercy reaches out to all?

When the time comes, I thank the Lord for being with me, and leave my prayer with a slow, grateful, sign of the cross.

Gospel

John: 20: 19–31

As always, I give myself time to become still, asking the Holy Spirit to help me.

In time, I read the passage slowly, several times, with an open and welcoming mind and heart.

When I am ready, perhaps I imagine I am with the disciples behind the closed doors.

I allow myself to interact with them. What is it like to be with these first disciples?

I notice what happens when Jesus comes and stands with them. I let his words ‘Peace be with you’ penetrate deep within me. How do I feel as I hear this? I share with Jesus.

I may be drawn to the experience of Thomas, the sceptic amongst the disciples, who struggles to believe without evidence.

Do I sometimes find myself identifying with him?

I allow myself to respond spontaneously in conversation with the Lord, telling him of any doubts … or of my desire for a deeper belief.

Towards the end of my prayer, I take time to notice how I am feeling now. What grace do I want to pray for?

Once again, I share with the Lord using my own words. I end my time of prayer slowly. Our Father

 

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham

 

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