The Church begins with holy power Print
Sunday scripture column

Kevin Perrotta

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Acts 5:12-16
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Rv 1:9-13, 17-19
Jn 20:19-31

In the first reading, St. Luke tells about the Church in the months after Jesus' resurrection. It was just one community, made up of a few thousand Jewish believers in the city of Jerusalem. Luke says the community was filled with "signs and wonders."

The Holy Spirit was acting so powerfully through the apostles that, as Peter walked down the street, his shadow might bring healing to people with physical and mental disorders. Astonishing!

Less obvious, but equally remarkable, is the way Luke describes the effect of these miracles. "Believers in the Lord," he says, "great numbers of men and women, were added to them" (Acts 5:14).

That's a complicated and somewhat odd way to put it. I would have expected Luke to say that "many people came to believe in the Lord" or "the number of believers increased." Why does he say, "believers in the Lord were added to them"?

The reason is that this group of Jewish believers, baptized into Jesus, was so closely connected to Jesus -- or, we could say, Jesus was so closely connected to them -- that "added to them" and "joined to him" were alternate ways of expressing the same reality. This deep presence of the Jesus is also communicated in the other readings.

"Sunday of Divine Mercy" could also be called "Sunday of Jesus' Presence in the Church." Because he is so present, we can encounter him, receive his forgiveness, and be strengthened.

Kevin Perrotta is the editor and an author of the Six Weeks with the Bible series (Loyola Press), teaches part-time at Siena Heights University, and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.