My blog for today’s Gospel passage, John 20:19-31, is here. This upcoming Sunday is “Mercy Sunday” in the Western Church. Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, or the last day of the Easter Octave. Though the Feast is relatively new, it’s timing on the week after Easter is appropriate, since the day celebrates the mercy of Jesus Christ, through whom all of us are redeemed.
The image associated with Mercy Sunday is Jesus resurrected, with two beams of light emanating from his heart. The beams are red and translucent, to echo the blood and water that issued from the wound to his right side. John 19:33-35:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. an eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe.
We also have commentary from I John 5:6:
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.
There is also have the literary irony of Pilate being associate with blood and water, in a reversal of the image, in Matthew 27:24 –
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
The idea that the price paid by Jesus is his blood is expressed in Revelation 7:13-14:
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
St. Augustine calls the octave of Easter the “days of mercy and pardon.” It is no wonder, then, that during his pilgrimage to Poland in 1997, Pope John Paul II declared: “I give thanks to Divine Providence that I have been enabled to contribute personally to the fulfillment of Christ’s will through the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy.”