Reflections on the Sunday of Divine Mercy: the Second Sunday of Easter
This second Sunday of Easter is also called the Sunday of Divine Mercy. The words come from the Psalm of the day: “I thank you YHWH for your goodness, your love is
everlasting.”(TIB) It is the word “love” here that is also translated most often as “mercy”- it is from the Hebrew word Chesed or Hesed. Chesed ,in Hebrew,refers to “all acts of loving kindness extended to others” this can range from “monetary gifts to those in need to clothing the naked,visiting the sick,comforting mourners and burying the dead, hosting guests, and showing emotional support to those in the most difficult life situations” and is mandatory, that is commanded by God in the Torah. Based on Deuteronomy 13:5 in the Hebrew Scriptures we are to ” walk after the presence of God”. And we do this by aspiring to mirror God’s attitudes and acts in our own lives. Rabbi Hama Bar Hanina , a Talmudic sage concluded: “As God is
good to all and God’s mercy is upon all God’s creation, we are to follow God’s example”.(Levine, 1987).
So within both Judaism and Christianity(and in the Muslim faith as well) we are to not only feel or say but show loving kindness to all, especially to those who need it most. That is what Jesus did, and that is what we are to do. In that same Psalm is the quote: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. For Christians, Jesus who lived the essence of the Torah (the Law) with chesed (loving kindness) and tzedekah (“righteousness, justice and charitable aid on behalf of the poor”), who showed us how to do it in his living and his dying and his rising again,is the cornerstone of our faith and the model of life to follow in keeping God’s “law of love”.
In the reading from ACTS 2:42-47 we see the early Christian community living God’s law of love by sharing all things in common until no one was needy. How can we do our best at that today? In what social and economic policies and what personal and other actions can this happen?
In the complex Gospel of the day,(John 20:19-31) Jesus appears to the disciples in several ways after his death and resurrection. Moving beyond all barriers he offers “peace” first to those scared and hiding followers who thought all was lost. Then, he fills them with God’s Holy Spirit and sends them into the world to live God’s loving kindness and mercy and justice. “So I send you….” He contends with the honest and understandable doubts of Thomas and blesses all who have not seen him as Thomas did, but yet believe and follow his example. Here we remember that “Believe in me” in translation from the Aramaic means more like “love me so much that you do what I do,you follow me in your own actions”. And so we are sent, poor and weak though we often are, to rely on the power of God to do God’s work in this world. We count on God’s mercy/loving kindness to forgive our personal sins and faults but much more, to help us to remedy the sins of the world-the sins of genocide of various sorts, war, killing, allowing hunger, thirst, homelessness, treating others as if they have no dignity or worth, demeaning and creating strangers and outcasts, often the very ones Jesus came to love.
Below,is a reflection from the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good on some places in our world where loving kindness and justice are needed from all who believe in mercy/loving kindness/justice right now:
From Catholic Alliance for the Common Good: Christopher Hale
“Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, the great culmination of the Easter Octave, where Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from dead. God’s redemption through Jesus Christ isn’t for one person and for one time, but for the entire human race—past, present, and future.
Pope Francis sums it up well in his tweet today: “God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires.”
That’s why we need to step up as the People of God and stop Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson from his execution spree. Governor Hutchinson is attempting to execute eight persons in eleven days. Despite legal challenges, he’s already overseen the execution of one man on Thursday night.
For his last meal, Ledell Lee declined to eat but instead chose to consume the Eucharist. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross to the Good Thief: “I promise you that you will be with me in paradise.”
Fellow Christians, let’s stop this. Call Governor Hutchinson today at (501) 682-2345 and ask him to end the executions.
Governor Hutchinson talks about the Bible often. You can’t hold the Bible in one hand and violate its teachings on the other hand. A simple question for the Governor: how many people would Jesus execute?
Please call today, and let us know how it goes.
As you know, during the next few weeks, CACG is going to take targeted actions to counter President Trump’s immoral agenda on four crucial issues:
*Just treatment of immigration and refugees, particularly from Muslim-majority countries.
*Protecting and improving American’s health care coverage gained under Obamacare.
*Stopping proposed cuts to poverty and hunger programs
*Ensuring the United States’s continued participation in the Paris Agreement and care for God’s creation.
We don’t currently have the resources to do everything we know that we are called by God to do so. We need to have more public Masses at the White House, more prayer vigils across the country, more congressional call to actions, and more educational resources for people of faith from coast to coast. But we don’t have the money we need right now to do this.
Every dollar we receive before midnight be matched by a group of generous donors. We’re nearly halfway towards our $15,000 goal.
Will you support our work today? What we do is impossible without you.
Thanks for your continued support of our work, and let us know if you have any questions!”
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good · 641 S Street NW, #300, Washington, DC 20001, United States
Note: The translations of Chesed and tzedakah used are from :Eric Levine, The Ethical-Ritual in Judaism: A Review of Sources on Torah Study and Social Action” in The Jewish Social Work Forum, Yeshiva University, Vol 26, Spring 1990,pp. 41-50.
Be blessed on this Sunday of Divine Loving Kindness as you receive God’s love into your own life everywhere you need it, and extend it out to all you know, especially those most in need of it.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida