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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR APRIL 16 | God’s mercy is a gift given as we approach Him with humble, contrite hearts

Divine Mercy Sunday | How can we live out the implications of the living, dying and rising of Jesus this Easter season?

We are blessed to have a long Easter season ahead of us. Even though Easter decorations will soon be packed away, our Easter season spreads out over many weeks. We don’t just celebrate Easter Sunday, but we also continue the work and observe more deeply the impact of the resurrection.

In the Scriptures for the Sunday of Divine Mercy, we are given some pretty bold ways of living and asked to follow in the apostles’ footsteps. From the Acts of the Apostles, we hear the story of the early Church coming together as one body, one community of faith. They were devoted to each other, the teachings of the apostles and community life. They continued to celebrate the breaking of the bread and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. They began to live out the implications of the living, dying and rising of Jesus.

One of the implications of the resurrection is that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We are responsible for the entire community, and any resources that we have are meant to be for the common good. That is quite a shift for most of us. We are pretty good at thinking of ourselves and our families. We’re also pretty good at thinking about disasters and helping people in distress. But what about the people in our own communities who have less than we do? They may not be in dire need, but do they know that we are there for them if they need us? For the early community to hold all things in common was more than just sharing money or food. It was a mindset of living the fact that I have brothers and sisters for whom I am responsible, even though we are not related by blood. We see this spelled out in the early Christian community through the readings from the Acts of the Apostles, but let’s try to make this more than just a history lesson. Because we have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, what changes do we need to make in how we live with one another? Are we people who happen to come together for the same Mass but end up individuals? Is the celebration of the Eucharist a communal celebration or just a collection of individuals doing their own private prayer? What are the implications from Easter for you and for your community?

The Scriptures this weekend also touch on the twin challenges of fear and doubt. The community gathered behind the locked doors seem to fear what might happen to them. Would what happened to Jesus happen to them, too? They might have been afraid that Jesus actually meant what He said and He expected them to change the way they lived their lives. Were they ready to be crucified for love? Most of the attention from the Scripture reading goes to Thomas, because he had the nerve to doubt and ask for help. I’m hoping that it’s an invitation to each of us to bring our doubt to Jesus and ask Him for what we need, so that our doubt can become belief. I pray that our celebration of Easter is not just about glory and faithfulness, but also about the breathing of the Holy Spirit into our doubts and fears.

The mercy of God is given to us as a gift as we approach God with humble and contrite hearts. As we examine our call to be Easter people, where do we first need to seek the mercy of God for the ways that we have failed to live as a resurrection people? Where have we not lived as a community with one another? Where have we allowed embarrassment about our fear or doubt keep us from Jesus? Let’s start with the mercy of God and see where that leads us.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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