“Do not be afraid” is the greeting of the Lord to St. John recounted in the opening passage from the Book of Revelation. The greeting is one that we have heard before. Jesus used this greeting frequently. The angel Gabriel also used the greeting when he appeared to Mary and Zechariah announcing the dawn of salvation.
The words were repeated often by Blessed John Paul II, whose anniversary we observed last week. The greeting invites us to approach the Lord and to experience His Divine Mercy.
There are so many things in life that might temp us to fear: the violence we read about in the newspapers or experience in our own lives; the plight of the poor, the hungry, the jobless and the sick; the lack of respect for all human life; the pressures of contemporary culture for aimless material success or power and the stresses they bring to family life. Yet it is into this situation that those words of the Lord echo “do not be afraid.”
Jesus’ victory over sin and death is the answer to any of our fears. He has been victorious. He is Risen! His victory is a victory of love over hate, compassion over indifference, of mercy over sin.
In the Gospel passage for today’s Mass Jesus uses the greeting “Peace be with you.” In the short passage the greeting is used three times. Jesus not only brings peace, He is Peace. Jesus is the peace that quells any fear or anxiety. Thomas experiences this when his doubts are erased by the Divine Mercy.
So too for us when we recognize Jesus’ presence in our lives.
The apostles were prepared to carry on the mission of Jesus after his passion, death and resurrection. The first reading today recalls this mission in Peter’s ministry. Many, many people were coming to him as they did to Jesus. The sick, the lame and those troubled by unclean spirits were brought to him for healing. In his presence they experienced peace.
The mission of peace continues to this day — it is the mission of the Church. Pope Francis’ prayer and plea for peace in his “Urbi et Orbi” Easter address reminds us that we all can work to bring Christ’s peace to troubled times. No power in this world is greater than the mercy of Christ. And in Christ we find peace.
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. As we celebrate the Lord’s Mercy, we celebrate the peace that he won for us. We celebrate His love. And in that love there is no place for fear.
Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Morrisville.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103