One of the earliest Christian texts of the second century, written by St Justin says: On Sundays there is an assembly in towns or in the country…This is the first day, on which God transformed darkness and matter and made the world; the day on which Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. The Jewish sabbath gave way to the Christian Sunday from the very beginning of the Church, and from then on every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection.
This Sunday brings us to the end of the Easter Octave but the Easter Season continues for fifty days until Pentecost. During this time we live, as did the Apostles, in the light of the Risen Christ. We listen to Him as they would have listened in those post-Resurrection days: full of awe-filled faith. Jesus would have been confirming their faith in Him, reminding them of what He had taught them all along and reassuring them that He would always be with them. Today the Church especially celebrates the Mercy of God which Jesus manifested at the moment of His appearing to the Apostles in the Upper Room. This gift of His Mercy is available to us always, especially in the Sacrament of His Mercy: Confession. Many of us have availed ourselves of this grace throughout Lent and Holy Week and this Sunday is another opportunity for us to be bathed in the twin streams of blood and water that flowed from His Heart upon the Cross. This Sunday afternoon there will be the usual Devotions for the Divine Mercy.
This weekend we begin the Great Week, Holy Week. It is the culmination of the Lenten season and the high point of the Christian year. Today we are going up to Jerusalem, to accompany our Lord in his Passion and Death. We can follow all of His actions and words as He sacrifices Himself for the salvation of the world. We all need to be generous in the amount of time we give to prayer, reflection and worship during this Week. The main liturgical focus, as always, are the ceremonies of the Sacred Triduum: Maundy Thursday evening Mass, followed by watching at the Altar of Repose; the Solemn Liturgical Action on Good Friday afternoon and the Easter Vigil late on Holy Saturday. Please pray for all those who will enter the Communion of the Catholic Church this Easter, especially in our Diocese of Brentwood. This year, those who are preparing for Reception into the Church in our own Parish will be Received later in the Easter Season, so not during the Easter Vigil this year.