The Gospel passage from John (20:19-31) starts with the words: “in the evening of that same day, the first day of the week….”. The reference to “the first day of the week” is made seven times in the New Testament. By the time the Gospel was penned, the early Christians must have wanted us to understand that Sunday had already become the Lord’s Day, and it was a day they gathered to celebrate the Resurrection, the day they gathered to celebrate the Eucharistic Liturgy. Next Sunday, you will see the passage goes on to make reference to the “breaking of bread”, which is an expression in the early Church to the gathering at Mass.
The episode of this Sunday passage however places the disciples in hiding after the crucifixion of Christ for fear of the Jews. And out of no where, the Resurrected Christ appeared and stood amongst them with the words” Peace be with you, and he breathed on them “Receive the Holy Spirit, for those sins you forgive, they are forgiven….” This is the institution of the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation (i.e. Confession). As the Gospel passage for the Second Sunday of Easter is always about the forgiveness of sins, Pope Saint John Paul II called the Second Sunday Easter, “Divine Mercy Sunday” (Influenced of course by the by St Faustina). In our Diocese, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated somewhere in the Diocese in a big way, and this year it is at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral at 3.15pm, and with priests making themselves available from 1.30-3.00pm (myself included!).
I have always liked the classic expression from the poet Alexander Pope (c1711): “…to err is human, and to forgive Divine” – and I reckon the Easter presents this truth beautifully.
May we as an Easter People, also experience God’s mercy.
Alleluia He is Risen!