For the faithful worldwide, the gifts of Easter continue after the official remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection. 

For Catholics around the world, Sunday, April 7, 2024, is known as Divine Mercy Sunday.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus prepares those on Earth to carry out his holy mission: “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’” (John 20:21-23). 

The verse from John “vividly portrays the merciful Jesus who we see on the image of Divine Mercy,” Sister Donata Farbaniec, OLM, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, a religious order founded in her native Poland, told Fox News Digital.

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In 2016, Farbaniec moved to Washington, D.C., to join the staff of the St. John Paul II National Shrine, says the shrine’s website. 

The first Sunday after Easter, known in the Catholic Church as the Second Sunday of Easter, has been known as Divine Mercy Sunday in the Catholic Church since April 30, 2000. 

St. John Paul II instituted the Sunday of Divine Mercy on that day when he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who was also a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. 

St. Faustina was a Polish mystic who claimed to have visions of Jesus Christ during the 1930s. 

One of those visions, which she recorded in her diary, was a request to designate the first Sunday after Easter as a “feast of mercy,” said Farbaniec. 

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In the Gospel of John, Jesus was demonstrating mercy following His resurrection and appeared to the apostles, “showing them His wounds, [saying] to them twice, ‘Peace be with you,’” said Farbaniec. 

“This is the moment when He establishes the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” she also said.

Washington DC nun Donata Farbiac, empty tomb split

“The first gift of our risen Lord is peace as a fruit of His forgiveness and reconciliation,” she said. 

“Jesus desires us to bring to Him our sins in the Sacrament of Penance and to receive His forgiveness.” 

“It is fitting that this first Sunday after Easter, the day Jesus gave us the gift of confession, is also the day which our Lord desired to be celebrated as the feast of His mercy,” she said. 

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“On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord Jesus’ generosity is exceptional,” said Farbaniec. 

“We received this exceptional grace in baptism, and a similar grace is attached to the reception of Holy Communion on the first Sunday after Easter in the attitude of trust in God and mercy toward our neighbors.” 

The gift of mercy and new life is “the abundant fruit of the Lord’s Passover (his passage from death to life), the fulfillment of His work of redemption,” Farbaniec said. 

Nun sister habit Jesus

Jesus Christ “accomplished His mission when, from the cross, He said, ‘Consumatum est – it is finished,'” she said. 

For the rest of humanity, however, “our salvation is not yet complete. We are still on the way. We still need His grace,” she continued.

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“Thus, Jesus gives us this special feast,” she said. “From the cross, Jesus offers each of us His forgiveness, received again in confession and absolution.” 

The Catholic Church regards Easter as an octave, or eight-day celebration, concluding on Divine Mercy Sunday, said Farbaniec. 

Jesus thomas wood carving

“The Lord urges us to enter into communion with Him, to become united to Him by receiving His body and blood,” she said. 

“Only then can His passion, death and resurrection bear desired fruit, namely, the gift of His love, welcomed and reciprocated in our love for Him and our neighbors.” 

 

By welcoming the gift of forgiveness and mercy from Jesus, “we make His words to St. Faustina our own: ‘My heart rejoices in this Feast,’” said Farbaniec. 

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