Today is the Octave of Easter, also called “Quasimodo Sunday” and “Dominica in albis depositis.” It is the Sunday of the “white robes laid aside” for the neophytes, who today in the ancient Church joined the assembly without wearing their baptismal garments.
In our times, this Octave Day of Easter is called “Divine Mercy Sunday,” so named by St. John Paul II after he instituted the plenary indulgence for this day associated with the Divine Mercy revelations to St. Faustina. As is the case with Corpus Christi or the Sacred Heart, the Divine Mercy is a local devotion that has now become a universal liturgical feast in the Roman Church. We rejoice at the beauty of the organic development of the Sacred Liturgy!
In our gospel today, Jesus gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins. It was this gospel that prompted St. John Paul to make today the Sunday of Divine Mercy. He wanted especially to highlight the Mercy of God exercised through the mediation of the hierarchical and institutional Church. On this glorious Easter day, we marvel at the magnificent gift of Divine Mercy given in the Holy Church in the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Penance. In these two sacraments, the Church continues to exercise the Power of the Keys given to St. Peter and all the Apostles by the Risen Lord Jesus.
Immediately before communicating the power of the keys to the Apostles, Our Lord breathed on them and greeted them, “Peace be with you.” In this breathing and greeting, He teaches us the refreshing tranquility of His Divine Mercy. In baptism and confession, Jesus breathes on us His Holy Spirit and grants us peace with God, with the Church, and with ourselves. If we desire refreshment and peace, we need only to bring our wounded souls before Our Lord’s compassionate Tribunal of Mercy.
The gift of peace of soul is especially given in the devout reception of the Sacrament of Penance because there is often great heartache involved in the commission of sins after baptism. When someone makes a good confession, with deep contrition and true and firm purpose of amendment, doing his penance with great love, he receives that peaceful breath of Jesus deep in his soul. He feels re-created and made new because He has been restored to life and wholeness. He is set free from the slavery of the devil and sin, which he renounced in his baptism and to which he had returned by mortal sin. He is in the Heart of Jesus, the only true Oasis of Peace.
Let us pray for a generous and fruitful ministry in the confessional for all priests so that the gift of Jesus’s Breath of Peace may be received unto salvation by all Christians.