Newsletter- 2nd Week of Eastertide
Today the Church keeps the 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), all the liturgical readings and prayers for each Sunday between Easter and Pentecost invite us into different movements of the one great symphony of resurrection faith. Today we contemplate the Divine Mercy of God, of our own need of God’s loving mercy and forgiveness and the love and forgiveness we must show one to another.
In the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope St John Paul II proclaimed that from that year forward the Second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. This was proclaimed at the Canonisation Mass of St. Faustina Kawalska, who worked throughout her life to make people aware of the merciful love of God. St. Faustina (1905–1938) was born and raised in Poland. Following a vocation to Religious Life, she was accepted by the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. As a member of the Congregation, she worked as a cook, gardener, and porter. In her spiritual life, her contemplation on the Mercy of God led her to develop a childlike trust in God and deep love for her neighbour. Today as we contemplate the merciful love of God, so we are reminded that through our Christian vocation and discipleship in the world in which we live, each of us is called to exhibit that self-same mercy and forgiveness too.
In the first scene from today’s Gospel the disciples are hiding behind closed doors “for fear” of those who had handed Jesus over to be executed by the Roman authorities. Jesus appears among them, offers a greeting of peace, and tells them that he has been sent by God, his “Father”. They receive from him the gift of the Holy Spirit. He sends them in turn to bring peace and to mediate the divine mercy and forgiveness of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel invites us to place ourselves in the shoes of the earliest disciples. It invites us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, to emerge from behind the doors that close us in on ourselves and that prevent us from rising above the fear of reprisals in our pursuit of justice and peace. It also invites us to ponder the consequences of forgiving on the one hand and of not forgiving on the other. To forgive another person is to release that person from the burden of guilt and shame. Forgiveness opens to each of us the possibility of healing and new life. To refuse forgiveness or to “retain” the sins of another is to leave that person unforgiven and so unhealed. As we keep Divine Mercy Sunday, we might consider the consequences of refusing to open ourselves up to forgiveness. Those who refuse to forgive others have often failed to forgive themselves for their own shortcomings. Our Easter faith invites us, for the sake of the whole Earth community, to keep living into that reality each day of our lives. Let us seek the prayers of St Faustina to help us to contemplate more fully the merciful love of God so that we may in turn learn how to be merciful to all whom we encounter in our daily lives.
A note of thanks to our volunteers: Last week I was able to thank each of you for your generosity to me in the Easter Offering and this week I would like to acknowledge my sincere thanks to all who worked so hard to prepare the liturgies and the church for our Easter celebrations. I would like to thank on your behalf our dedicated group of musicians and singers, our flower arrangers and our young and committed band of servers. Our Readers and all our volunteers who helped to welcome people at the door. Those too who helped to clean the church and polish all the silver and brass, tidy the church gardens and all who helped in so many different and varied ways to animate the liturgies and to ensure that our church was ready for Holy Week and Easter, the list could go on and on! This year we saw a huge increase in the number of people attending the Holy Week/Easter Liturgies and without the support of our many dedicated volunteers from the parish community our celebrations this year would have been the poorer. Thank you, your generosity and kindness, it is greatly appreciated by me, and I know all who came during Holy Week and Easter to worship with us here at St. Mary’s.
Andy from Express Driveways: In addition, a special note of thanks to Andy from Express Driveways, who again kindly donated over fifty easter eggs to our young children who attended the Easter Sunday Mass.
With my prayers for each of you and for your families during this coming Low Week,
Your parish priest and friend,
2023 16th April– Newsletter – Download