Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

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Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

OPENING PRAYER

Divine Mercy

Eternal God,

in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible,

look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us,

that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent,

but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will,

which is Love and Mercy itself.

Amen.

COLLECT

God of everlasting mercy,

who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast

kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,

increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,

that all may grasp and rightly understand

in what font they have been washed,

by whose Spirit they have been reborn,

by whose Blood they have been redeemed.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves

to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,

to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone,

and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

All who believed were together and had all things in common;

they would sell their property and possessions

and divide them among all according to each one’s need.

Every day they devoted themselves

to meeting together in the temple area

and to breaking bread in their homes.

They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,

praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.

And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 3 Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer.1

CCC 84 The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),2 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. “By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.”3

CCC 584 Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce.4 He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”5 After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.6

CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”7 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;8

with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,9 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;10

she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:11

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..12

CCC 949 In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.”13

Communion in the faith. The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.

CCC 1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.14

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,15 above all at the Last Supper.16 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,17 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;18 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.19

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.20

CCC 1342 From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord’s command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. .. Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.21

CCC 2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.22 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”23

Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer. .. Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. .. We have often said: “This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”24

CCC 2624 In the first community of Jerusalem, believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.”25 This sequence is characteristic of the Church’s prayer: founded on the apostolic faith; authenticated by charity; nourished in the Eucharist.

CCC 2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who “were glad and glorified the word of God.”26

1 Cf. Acts 2:42.

2 DV 10 § 1; cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12-14 (Vulg.).

3 DV 10 § 1; cf. Acts 2:42 (Greek); Pius XII, apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950:AAS 42 (1950), 756, taken along with the words of St. Cyprian, Epist. 66, 8:CSEL 3/2,733: “The Church is the people united to its Priests, the flock adhering to its Shepherd.”

4 Cf. Mt 21:13.

5 Jn 2:16-17; cf. Ps 69:10.

6 Cf. Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 21; etc.

7 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

8 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.

9 Cf. Acts 2:42.

10 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

11 AG 5.

12 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

13 Acts 2:42.

14 Cf. 1 Cor 11:20; Rev 19:9.

15 Cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36; Mk 8:6, 19.

16 Cf. Mt 26:26; 1 Cor 11:24.

17 Cf. Lk 24:13-35.

18 Cf. Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11.

19 Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17.

20 Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34.

21 Acts 2:42, 46.

22 Cf. Acts 2:42-46; 1 Cor 11:17.

23 Heb 10:25.

24 Sermo de die dominica 2 et 6: PG 86/1, 416C and 421C.

25 Acts 2:42.

26 Acts 2:47; 3:9; 4:21; 13:48.

APPLICATION

In these six short verses of the second chapter of the Acts we are given a picture of the fervent religious life of the first Christian community. As would be expected, these Jerusalem Christians, having the Apostles still among them, and the memory of the resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit still fresh in their memories, were animated and moved by a deep religious fervor.

Apart from its noble ideal of true brotherhood, which moved those who possessed property to sell their possessions and divide the proceeds among the community–an ideal which could not continue, because of the selfishness in human nature, of which he was well aware–our Lord himself had recommended it only to a chosen few. We Christians today have in this first Christian Church of Jerusalem a model which we must strive to follow.

“They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” While the Church has always and every where endeavored to instruct its members in the teaching of the Apostles, and encouraged them to take part in the celebration of the Eucharist and in community and private prayers, we present-day Catholics have, thanks to Pope John and his second Vatican Council, a better opportunity than ever before of imitating more closely the early Christians of Jerusalem.

The introduction of the vernacular language in place of Latin in the liturgy, gives even the humblest and least educated among us the chance not only of following what is taking place at the altar, but of taking an active part in it. While it is still the priest, through the power which comes to him from Christ through the Apostles in the sacrament of orders, who brings Christ present on the altar, it is the whole community present to whom he comes, and who offer him with the priest as the atonement for the sins of the world.

The congregation are no longer silent spectators at a rite performed on their behalf; they are co-offerers with the celebrant in this miraculous mystery of divine love. The prayers they say are not their own private petitions to God, but are the public expression of the Christian community’s acts of adoration, thanksgiving, atonement and petition. In this liturgical renewal, therefore, the present generation, if they play the part expected of them, resemble more closely the first Christian community in Jerusalem. Hitherto, through no fault of their own, our Christian congregations let the priest at the altar carry out the liturgical action for them; they were content with their personal private prayers, while the public, community, liturgical service was performed in their name. Now, however, let us hope that all true Christians who appreciate what the “breaking of bread” or the Eucharistic sacrifice means for them, will appreciate also they have an active part to perform in this community service.

Christ in his loving mercy comes on our altar under the form of bread, to be our spiritual nourishment and our strength on the hard road to heaven. We should prove ourselves ungrateful indeed, were we to refuse this divine gift, which only divine love could think of giving us and which only divine power could give. If we feel unworthy of this great honor, remember he has given us also the sacrament which will remove anything which is really displeasing in us, and if we have but the passing, human failings, remember how he loved the publicans and sinners in Palestine and daily mixed with them.

The new liturgy gives us a better opportunity also of imitating the first Jerusalem Christians in devoting ourselves to the Apostles’ teaching. In the three-year cycle of scripture readings which form the introduction to the Eucharistic sacrifice and communion, we have a wealth of instructive excerpts from the Bible, chosen especially to help us get a better knowledge of God and his love for us, and of the meaning of our Christian vocation. Every sincere Christian should not only listen care, fully to these readings but should study them privately in the quiet of the home, and try to let their message influence their daily lives.

If we devote ourselves in this way to the Apostles’ teaching, if we take an active, devout part in the weekly community celebration of the sacrament of God’s infinite love, and attend daily when possible, we will, like the first Jerusalem Christians, give true praise and glory to God and earn not only the favor but the following of our non-Christian neighbors.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

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.”

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

I was hard pressed and was falling,

but the LORD helped me.

My strength and my courage is the LORD,

and he has been my savior.

The joyful shout of victory

in the tents of the just:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

By the LORD has this been done;

it is wonderful in our eyes.

This is the day the LORD has made;

let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

READING II

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1 Pt 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,

kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,

to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while

you may have to suffer through various trials,

so that the genuineness of your faith,

more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,

may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor

at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although you have not seen him you love him;

even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,

you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,

as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 654 The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”1 Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace.2 It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: “Go and tell my brethren.”3 We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.

CCC 1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.4 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:5

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.6

CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;7 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.8

1

2 Cf. Eph 2:4-5; I Pt 1:3.

3 Mt 28:10; Jn 20:17.

4 Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820; (1547): 1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000.

5 Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7.

6 St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4, 39: PL 77, 396; cf. Mt 12:31.

7 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.

8 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.

APPLICATION

We have just celebrated the feast of the resurrection, and St. Peter’s words today are intended to remind us again of what that unique event means to us and to the Christian faith which we profess. It is the final and convincing proof of the truth of the Incarnation. The Christ who had been born as a baby of the Virgin Mary, had lived in Nazareth, had preached the message of salvation, had died on the cross. was none other than what he had said he was, the divine Son of God. He had come to give mankind life and “abundant” life–an eternal life hereafter in the kingdom of his Father.

The first converts to Christianity had grasped this truth, this consoling knowledge, and they rejoiced in it “with unutterable and exalted joy.” We, too, have grasped this truth; we, too, know that through the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ, we have been made heirs to an “inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.” But do we always let this consoling knowledge, this Christian conviction, govern and regulate our daily lives and actions?

The things of this world are very close to us and hard to ignore. Heaven seems very far away, and may seem to be something we can worry about later. The joys and pleasures of this passing life are very attractive because they surround us so closely now-the thought of the true, unending pleasure and happiness, much as it satisfies and answers to our innate human, intellectual desires and ambitions, can easily be pushed into the background by the hustling and bustling of the present, temporary attractions.

Today, perhaps, more than ever before, the advance of science and technology, that is, the discovery of the laws that govern our created universe and their application to daily living, keep so many so occupied that they have no time to think of the Law-maker, the Creator of all, and the future he has planned for them. They miss the wood because of the trees. They are so busy using and enjoying the earthly gifts God put at their disposal that they ignore the greatest gift of all–the one that will last forever.

“Our faith is more precious than gold”: let us never forget these words of St. Peter.

GOSPEL

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Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,

was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them,

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands

and put my finger into the nailmarks

and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside

and Thomas was with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked,

and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,

and bring your hand and put it into my side,

and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples

that are not written in this book.

But these are written that you may come to believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,

and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042317.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”1

For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”2

CCC 442 Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”3 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. ..”4 “And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”5 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.6

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.7 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.8 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”9

CCC 514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.10 What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”11

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,12 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,13 than for the ordinary People of God.14 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;15 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.16 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,17 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),18 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.19

CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.20 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”21) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.22 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”23

CCC 644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.”24 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.”25 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.26 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.27 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.28

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”29 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.30 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.31 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.32 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.33

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:34 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands35 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”36 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.37 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”38

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.39 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”40

CCC 858 Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;. .. And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.”41 From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”42 The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.”43

CCC 976 The Apostle’s Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”44

(Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to suggest some basic facts briefly.)

CCC 1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying:45 they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This “apostolic succession” structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.46 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.47 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.48 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,49 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.50 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.51 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.52

CCC 1441 Only God forgives sins.53 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.”54 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.55

CCC 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,56 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”57

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.58 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”59 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.60

1 DV 11.

2 DV 11; cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:19-21; 3:15-16.

3 Mt 16:16-17.

4 Gal 1:15-16.

5 Acts 9:20.

6 Cf. I Th 1:10; Jn 20:31; Mt 16:18.

7 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

8 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

9 Jn 20:28,21:7.

10 Cf. Jn 20:30.

11 Jn 20:31.

12 Lk 2:34.

13 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

14 Jn 7:48-49.

15 Cf Lk 13:31.

16 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

17 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

18 Cf. Mt 6:18.

19 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

20 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.

21 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.

22 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.

23 Mk 16:14.

24 Lk 24:38-41.

25 Cf Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17.

26 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.

27 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.

28 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.

29 Mk 16:19.

30 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

31 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

32 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

33 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

34 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

35 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

36 Rom 6:4.

37 Cf. Jn 20:22.

38 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

39 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

40 LG 7.

41 Mk 3:13-14.

42 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.

43 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.

44 Jn 20:22-23.

45 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

46 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

47 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.

48 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

49 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

50 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

51 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

52 Cf. Acts 2:38.

53 Cf. Mk 2:7.

54 Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48.

55 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

56 Cf. In 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18.

57 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.

58 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

59 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

60 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

It may surprise and amaze us that the Apostles were so reluctant to believe that Christ had risen from the dead, to live forever in glory with his Father in heaven. But we must remember that during their two or three years with him they saw nothing in him but a mere man, one with divine powers, but yet a man; certain prophets of the old covenant had some such powers also. Christ had “emptied himself” of his divine nature, and he had foretold his resurrection many times. But that he could be really God, as well as man, was something they could not then grasp, and if he was a mere man death had to be the end.

Their slowness of faith had its value for the future Church and for all of us. If they had been expecting the resurrection, and anxiously looking forward to it, people could say that they imagined it, that they persuaded themselves it had happened. Indeed, there have been men proud of their acuteness of judgment, who have said that the story of the resurrection is a story of mass hallucination, although all the evidence proves the opposite. Their conviction that it could not happen, could not be removed from their minds except by impressive evidence that it had. Hallucination is born in a mind already expecting and hoping for the imagined fact.

We can thank the Apostles and especially Thomas, the last to give in, that our faith in the resurrection and divine glorification of Christ is that much the stronger. Our Christianity which would have ended before the first Easter week had passed, if Christ had not risen in glory, spread rapidly to the then known world and is still spreading, because its author was none other than Christ “our Lord and our God.” How prophetic were the words of Gamaliel at the meeting of the Sanhedrin which tried to prevent the Apostles from preaching the new Christian faith: “If this plan or work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it (Acts 5:38-39).

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love. May this merciful love also shine on the face of the Church and show itself through the sacraments, in particular that of Reconciliation, and in works of charity, both communitarian and individual. May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for man.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli address, March 30, 2008

CLOSING PRAYER

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Prayer to Jesus Christ the King

Almighty, everlasting God,

Who in Thy beloved Son,

King of the whole world,

hast willed to restore all things anew;

grant in Thy Mercy that all the families of nations,

rent asunder by the wound of sin,

may be subjected to His most gentle rule.

Who with Thee lives and reigns world without end.

Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1118

 

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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