Communities of Mission and Mercy

Communities of Mission and Mercy

Second Sunday of Easter (Low Sunday). fr John throws light on our mission as disciples of the risen Lord.

The first meeting between the Risen Lord Jesus and his disciples St Peter is not given to us in the Scriptures.

Peter had never denied that Jesus was the Christ, The Son of God , but had denied three times that he Peter was a disciple of Jesus.

We are not allowed access to the intimacy of that meeting. Yet it is referred to quite prominently in the Scriptures: the disciples coming back from Emmaus are told; “Yes, the Lord is risen and has appeared to Simon”. And St Paul tells us that Christ appeared first of all to Cephas, to Peter. The power of that encounter of Peter with Divine Mercy Victorious, his Risen Lord the same Jesus, re-forms and redirects Peter. The same too with St Paul on the Damascus Road, “the foremost of sinners” who becomes the greatest of the apostles.

Perhaps the re-creative power of divine mercy is not just that it deals with the past – though it does – but with what we are now in the eyes of divine mercy and what, in the same mercy, we will be enabled to become.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday when we celebrate our constant reception of the power of the Risen Jesus in our midst, as in today’s gospel. We testify to our baptismal character as children of God as in the second reading. We commit ourselves as disciples to continuing the mission of the apostolic community in Jerusalem, as in the first reading, to be visible Christian communities of mission and mercy.

It is often said that the mass is made up of two parts the liturgy of the Word and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. But following Pope Benedict’s encyclical on Mercy, “Deus caritas est”, it seems to me the mass is made up of three parts; The service of the Word, the service of the Eucharist and the service of living out daily the Christian merciful life. Having heard our Master’s voice, and having received his blood for the forgiveness of sins and having become one body with Him we go out to embody that mercy and transfuse it as reconciliation within our world. A Eucharistic way of living demands of us who have received mercy a transfigured existence and a commitment to transforming the world in accordance with the gospel.

Saint Paul writes: “I appeal to you brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to the world but be transformed..” (Rom 12.1). And so we might equally see this Christian living as the first part of the mass. We return weekly to Sunday mass to place our living sacrifices into his one great sacrifice of Calvary and to listen once more to his words. “You must be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful. Judge not and you will not be judged.”(Luke 6.36). “I was hungry and you fed me. I was naked and you clothed me.” (Mt. 26.44). “The merciful need have no fear of judgement.” (James 2.13).

Readings: Acts 4:32-35|1 John 5:1-6|John 20:19-31

fr. John Farrell, former Prior Provincial and Master of Students, and is now based at Holy Cross, Leicester, from where he exercises a wide-ranging preaching ministry.