“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore” (Rev 1:17-18).
We heard these comforting words in the Second Reading taken from the Book of Revelation. They invite us to turn our gaze to Christ, to experience His reassuring presence. To each person, whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and dramatic, the Risen One repeats: “Fear not!; I died on the Cross but now I am alive for evermore”; “I am the first and the last, and the living one.”
“The first,” that is, the source of every being and the first-fruits of the new creation; “the last,” the definitive end of history; “the living one,” the inexhaustible source of life that triumphed over death forever.
In the Messiah, crucified and risen, we recognize the features of the Lamb sacrificed on Golgotha, who implores forgiveness for His torturers and opens the gates of heaven to repentant sinners; we glimpse the face of the immortal King who now has “the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:18).
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever! (Ps 117:1). Let us make our own the Psalmist’s exclamation which we sang in the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord’s mercy endures forever!” In order to understand thoroughly the truth of these words, let us be led by the liturgy to the heart of the event of salvation, which unites Christ’s Death and Resurrection with our lives and with the world’s history. This miracle of mercy has radically changed humanity’s destiny. It is a miracle in which is unfolded the fullness of the love of the Father who, for our redemption, does not even draw back before the sacrifice of His Only-begotten Son.
In the humiliated and suffering Christ, believers and non-believers can admire a surprising solidarity, which binds Him to our human condition beyond all imaginable measure. The Cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, “speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy” (Rich in Mercy, 7).
Let us thank the Lord for His love, which is stronger than death and sin. It is revealed and put into practice as mercy in our daily lives, and prompts every person in turn to have “mercy” towards the Crucified One. Is not loving God and loving one’s neighbor and even one’s “enemies,” after Jesus’ example, the program of life of every baptized person and of the whole Church?
Pope John Paul II’s Homily
On the first universal celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2001.
Read the entire text here.