Sunday Scripture readings: April 23, 2017

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

First Reading: Acts 2:42-47

Responsoral Psalm: 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Gospel: John 10:19-31

By Sharon K. Perkins

We all know people who endure hardships and trials but who never seem to complain or grumble. They manage to remain positive and joyful through it all. I wish I could count myself among those people, but I admit to being sometimes a bit slow to see the silver lining in the cloud.

Yet, one cannot read any of today’s readings without being lifted up to another plane. Six times the words “rejoice” and “joy” are used, and several more times the biblical writers burst forth with words of thanksgiving and spontaneous exultation. And why shouldn’t they? It is this resurrection joy, spilling over into praise, that propelled Jesus’ followers to “evangelize” — literally, share the good news.

In his apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis taps into this same joy when he writes: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”

On Divine Mercy Sunday, we rejoice in the knowledge that in the resurrected Lord, each of us is loved without recrimination, without strings attached and without limits or preconditions. Sometimes we’re like Thomas and it’s hard to see Jesus, the face of the Father’s mercy, but Jesus continually reveals himself to us in new and unexpected ways. We’re blessed to be “those who have not seen and have believed,” living lives of joy and praise in such a way that others are able to see Jesus and believe in him.

It’s reasonable to read the Acts account of the early church as a legendary story in the distant past, out of reach for us today. But the pope exhorts: “I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the church’s journey in years to come.” This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!

QUESTIONS:

When have you been able to experience joy despite difficult circumstances? In what way has Jesus shown you the face of the Father’s mercy?

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