Sunday Readings Reflection: Divine Mercy Sunday

April 24, 2022

Acts 5:12-15
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19
John 20:19-31

Let the house of Israel say,
            “His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
        “His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
        “His mercy endures forever.”
-Psalm 118:2-4

A few years ago, I begrudgingly went to our parish Divine Mercy Sunday service with my wife. She had been praying the chaplet regularly for some time now and I had not. No, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the mercy of Christ. Indeed, I had already seen it and known it in my own life. But I didn’t understand the chaplet, and the whole thing just seemed, well, new. So I guess I was skeptical of yet another repetitive prayer said while caressing plastic beads.

The service offered some Eucharistic Adoration time (which I always enjoy), the sacrament of reconciliation (which I always need), some reflection (which I have been trying to do more of lately), and, of course, the recitation of the chaplet (this was where I was skeptical). Adding to the skepticism was all the talk of indulgences, which I still cannot explain to a non-Catholic other than no, they are not a free pass to heaven. But I trust my wife’s sense of what is holy and I went with her to pray the chaplet.

At the end of the chaplet, the prayer that is repeated three times is, “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Despite my skepticism, this was not the first time I had prayed the chaplet. I already knew the words. But this day, kneeling in church, it was more than words. I was overcome with an unexpected well of emotion as I repeated the phrase the second time. I stopped, my body tingling. I collected myself, not knowing what just happened or why it happened. I am certain I did not recite the phrase out loud the third time. My wife noticed and gave me a quizzical look. I shrugged and tried to pass it off as “nothing.” 

But I know in my heart that it was far from nothing. I know that, at that moment, a skeptic reciting a rote prayer at a service I’d rather not have attended, was overcome by the mercy of Christ. At that moment, as the Psalm indicates, I knew the fear of the Lord, because His mercy endures forever. I have not been similarly overcome since that moment but I know the significance of the moment–God, through the resurrection of Jesus, is present in my life. And I am overcome with a well of emotion as I realize and consider the full, and true, impact of His love.

To Him be the glory!

May the doubts, missteps, and foibles of my faith be overcome by the steadfast love and unrelenting mercy of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on me and on the whole world. Amen

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