Sunday, April 15, 2012

Divine Mercy Sunday: "Whose sins you forgive"

SECOND Sunday of Easter
Acts 4, 32-35; Psalm 118; 1 John 5, 1-6; John 20, 19-31

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

New life is found in the forgiveness of our sins! Christ makes himself present by conquering sin in the heart of the repentant believer. The sign of this new life through the presence of the risen Christ is joy, the absence of fear.

In confession our communion of charity with the saving Lord is restored and its fruit is joy.

“The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.” (CCC 1829)

The apostles were bound by the imprisonment of fear before they had received the Easter gift of peace through the love of the risen Christ. Believing it a protection from the object of their fears, they have locked themselves into the upper room. It was there that "Jesus came and stood before them...Then he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.' "

In this Easter season, we celebrate the Divine gift of the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as an outpouring of the Risen Christ. Today the Church shares in the Resurrection and the life of Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What does this gift mean to the Church? The peace of Christ, always ours with the forgiveness of our sins.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us what the Church has always believed by professing in the Creed "I believe in the forgiveness of sins": our gift for salvation in the Holy Spirit. The Creed links "the forgiveness of sins" with profession of faith in the Holy Spirit because the risen Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he gave them the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit. By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive our sins after baptism and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance. "In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification." (CCC 984-987)

If you would be preserved "from all anxiety" as we pray in the Mass, regularly practice the Sacrament of Confession. Salvation begins now as we are released from the bonds of fear and anxiety, in the first place by the forgiveness of our sins. Confession is an Easter sacrament. Celebrate Easter: celebrate Confession. The Holy Spirit will give you the peace of confidence in Christ's saving passion and Resurrection.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Father Cusick

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

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