Posted by: fvbcdm | April 7, 2013

Easter Friday (5 April 2013)

The Sunday that we’ll be celebrating this weekend has gone by a number of names in the history of the Church. Back in the days when the liturgy was in Latin, the Sundays were usually designated by the first word of their entrance antiphon—the “Introit” as it was called then.  And the Sunday after Easter began, and still begins when the entrance antiphon is not replaced by an opening hymn, by the words “Like newborn children. . .” And the Latin word used to begin that antiphon is “Quasimodo.” So the Sunday after Easter was “Quasimodo Sunday.”  In the famous novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo, the abandoned baby is found on the steps of Paris’s cathedral on the morning of the Sunday after Easter, so the priests called him “Quasimodo.”  In Advent we have a Gaudete Sunday; in Lent, a Laetare Sunday—again, names taken from the opening word of the entrance antiphon of that day. Then, this Sunday came to be called “Low Sunday” to distinguish it from the very HIGH Sunday the week before.  And now, it is the Sunday of Divine Mercy, so called by Pope John Paul II.  

We use as the first reading of this Sunday’s Mass a passage from the first letter of Saint Peter, where the Prince of the Apostles tells us that God “in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And then, in the gospel we read of what happened on the night of that first Easter Sunday.  The risen Savior came into the upper room where his apostles were gathered. He greeted them with the Hebrew “Shalom”: Peace be with you. Then he breathed on them (“breath” in Hebrew is the same as “spirit”) and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.” Another one of these stupendous gifts of God to humanity for our salvation.  He gave us the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper; he gave his life on the cross; now he gives to his newly ordained bishops and priests the power of forgiving sins. When a soldier defeated an enemy in those days, he could bring home with him any booty or plunder from the battlefield or the country of the defeated enemy.  The newly risen Christ brings with him from his encounter with death and his conquest of it a choice piece of plunder indeed: he had made atonement for our sins by his death on the cross, and now brings back with him divine mercy, forgiveness, pardon.  If I were to say to a penitent who comes to confession all that I might say, I could say, “we have sinned. But Jesus wants to forgive us and bring us back into the circle of his love, so he died in atonement for our sins.  And on rising from the dead, the first thing he gave to his first bishops and priests was the power to forgive sin, to dispense mercy, to pardon, to reconcile, to make clean again.”  This is Divine Mercy Sunday.  He wants to forgive us more than we want to be forgiven. He loves us more than we love him, even though he is infinitely lovable, and we certainly are not.  But you see, love is measured not by the lovability of the beloved, but by the love of the lover.  And Christ, our lover, is infinitely loving.

And Jesus wants to forgive us “not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” And so we pray particularly on this beautiful Sunday, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have MERCY on us! Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown., O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

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