The celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection continues in the Church for eight days, called the Octave of Easter. Each day of the Octave is ranked as a Solemnity in the Church’s liturgical calendar, the highest ranking of liturgical feasts. At Masses during the Octave of Easter, as on Sundays, the Gloria, is recited or sung. And at the end of each Mass of the Octave, the double Alleluia is sung at the dismissal.
The idea of an Octave of a great feast has its roots in the Old Testament. There are many Jewish feasts that lasted for eight days, for example, the feast of Passover and the feast of Tabernacles. In the Catholic Church, we celebrate eight days of Christmas as well as eight days of Easter.
The Gospel readings at Masses during the Octave of Easter include passages from the Gospels that relate various appearances of the Risen Jesus. Reflecting on these Gospel texts is a wonderful way to prolong the celebration of Easter. Each day during the Octave, we proclaim in the Gospel Acclamation: This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
The Octave of Easter ends on the Second Sunday of Easter, the Sunday of Divine Mercy. In the Jubilee Year 2000, at the Mass in which he canonized the humble religious Sister Faustina Kowalska, Blessed John Paul II declared that from then on throughout the Church the Second Sunday of Easter would also be called the Sunday of Divine Mercy. This is entirely appropriate since, as Blessed John Paul II reminded us, “Divine Mercy is “the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity… .”
Blessed John Paul II frequently reminded us that “mercy is an indispensable dimension of love.” He would refer to mercy as “love’s second name.” God’s love was revealed and actualized as mercy. We see this in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And this is what we are called to live and actualize today in our lives and in the life of the Church. Our Lord told Saint Faustina three ways we are called to exercise mercy toward our neighbors: by deed, by word, and by prayer. To love as Jesus loved includes practicing mercy towards others. Jesus taught us in the Beatitudes: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
At Mass on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, we will hear the Gospel account of Our Lord’s appearance to the apostles on the night of the first Easter Sunday. When He appeared to them, the Risen Jesus showed them his hands and his side. He showed them his glorious wounds. These wounds reveal the divine mercy. And then Our Lord imparted to his apostles his own power to forgive sins and entrusted to them and their successors the ministry of reconciliation when he said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, we have a blessed opportunity to experience the divine mercy in a powerful way through the forgiveness of our sins. In this sacrament, we encounter our merciful Savior through the ministry of his priests.
Through Saint Faustina, our Lord promised an abundance of graces to the faithful who devoutly observe the Sunday of Divine Mercy. There will be special celebrations of the Sunday of Divine Mercy in many of our parishes. There are various devotional practices revealed through Saint Faustina that can help us in our spiritual lives: the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the image of Divine Mercy, and the simple prayer: Jesus, I trust in you. These devotions are not ends in themselves — they help us to put mercy into action in our lives, to live the Beatitude: Blessed are the merciful. Showing mercy to our neighbors is a requirement of Divine Mercy devotion. As Our Lord said to Saint Faustina: I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it.
At Mass on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, we will pray Psalm 118 (the responsorial psalm that day). This is one of a series of psalms that the Jewish people call the Hallel. They were songs of praise used on feasts that recalled God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. Psalm 118 is one of thanksgiving to God for his steadfast love and mercy in rescuing his people from their enemies. In psalm 118, we read:
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.’
Jesus himself would have prayed this psalm at the Last Supper. When we pray it, we remember Christ’s passion and death and we thank God for raising Jesus from the dead. It reminds us to trust in the Lord and his merciful love. It truly endures forever.
In the Divine Mercy image, we see two rays of light shining from the heart of Jesus, one red, the other white. The red represents Christ’s blood and the mystery of the Eucharist. The white represents the water of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit. From the Sacred Heart of Jesus, God’s merciful love shines forth and illumines the world.
As we celebrate the Sunday of Divine Mercy, let us “give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). And may the Lord help us to spread his mercy and to bear witness to it among all our brothers and sisters!
Explanation of this concept
The Lord told Moses (Leviticus 16: 29-34, 23: 26-28) And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins, once a year. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you…. Because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. The people had to afflict (humble) themselves and offer a blood sacrifice. (to read more click here)
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.