Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven

Divine Mercy Sunday

In the evening of the Sunday of the Resurrection the risen Lord appeared to his disciples in the Upper Room. He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive they are forgiven”. It was the Easter gift to the apostles, and subsequently to the Church: The Holy Spirit was bestowed on the apostle to enable them, in the name of Christ, to forgive sins.

The death of Christ on Calvary was the great act of atonement for the sins of mankind. Fallen humanity was reconciled with God by the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God offering himself as the perfect victim. This sacrifice is captured in St John’s Gospel in his account of the piercing of the heart of Jesus and his witness of the blood and water flowing from the pierced heart. The blood of sacrifice and the waters of the life of the Spirit.

On the first occasion that risen the Lord appears to his disciples, on the eve of the Sunday of the Resurrection, he gives the power and authority to the apostles to be ministers of the forgiveness of God.

St John tells us that he “breathed on them” and imparted the power of the Holy Spirit to be the means of the forgiveness of sins being accomplished. At this moment the Sacrament of Penance was instituted.

Of all things that the risen Lord could have focussed upon in his first meeting with his disciples after the Resurrection the fact that it was the power to forgive sins that was imparted is a clear sign that in the heart of God, the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of the sinner with God is of vital importance.

With this in mind we can consider today the revelations of the Lord to St Faustina.

Sister Faustina lived in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow. This simple nun who had little formal education and carried out the humblest of tasks in the convent was chosen to receive revelations from the Lord concerning Divine Mercy.

On February 22, 1931, the Lord appeared to her offering a message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary under this date:

In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, “paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You”.

The Lord explained the meaning of this image saying to her:

The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous;
the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These
two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.

Sr Faustina was encouraged to promote a devotion to the Divine Mercy, and that there be a feast day dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast was to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, on the day when the readings speak of Jesus offering us the Sacrament of Reconciliation – “whose sins you forgive they are forgiven.

The Lord longed that the message of the mercy of God be communicated to people. It is a message about the depths of the love of God for humanity, for each individual. This merciful love is greater than the power of sin. God wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others.

In offering this image to the world, the Lord wanted us to focus upon his heart – his pierced heart. The Lord wanted to us realise that it was the price he paid for the mercy of God to be released on the world. The death of Christ opened the floodgates of mercy.

God is a God of mercy and compassion. He longs for 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.

Once we taste the mercy of God then we find within ourselves a desire to be merciful to others. We can thus extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does so to us.

All of this is to be accomplished through a discovery of being able to trust in Jesus. If we surrender ourselves to Jesus in trust then God will be able to pour out his mercy on us.

Mercy has been poured out on all of humanity, and the Church can dispense this mercy through the Sacrament of Penance.

Thus, it is most appropriate that this Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, where each year the Gospel tells of this appearance of the Lord and the giving of the power to forgive sins, should be called Divine Mercy Sunday.

This is the message of the Lord to St Faustina. This is the message of the Lord to us on this Divine Mercy Sunday. 

Let us turn of thankful hearts to God in this Mass. Let us open our hearts afresh to Christ and say, “Jesus I trust in you”. Let us resolve to regularly participate in the Sacrament of Mercy and confess our sins.

Archbishop Julian Porteous

Sunday, 7 April 2024

Tags: Homilies