My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope you are having a blessed Easter Season. Before continuing, I would like to thank all the volunteers and parish staff who made our beautiful Holy Week liturgies possible and all of you who participated in them. I also want to thank you for your generous support to our Catholic Family Sharing Appeal (CSFA) as we met our financial goal in both parishes. 

During the Easter season, you will notice a change in the readings we hear during Mass. Usually, the first reading is from the Old Testament, but during Easter the first reading will be from the Books of Acts because the Church wants us to pay attention to the birth of Christianity. Also, during this season the gospel reading will focus on the resurrection appearances of Jesus and the words of Jesus about the age of the Church from the Gospel of John. 

In Sunday’s gospel, we read the account of two resurrection appearances of Jesus, one on Easter Sunday and the other eight days later. There are two things here that I would like to pay attention to. First, Jesus repeats three times “Peace be with you”. This was a customary greeting in Jesus’ times. Nevertheless, Jesus is not only repeating a greeting but is trying to help the disciples in their fear and sense of shame/guilt because they abandoned Him during his Passion and Death on the cross. 

Second, the Gospel of John tells us that “he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”. The action of breathing on them could seem a little bit strange, but if we go back to Genesis, we will remember that “breathing” is an act of creation. God breathed into the dust of the earth to give Adam life. So, here Jesus is inaugurating a new creation through the Holy Spirit and one of the first acts of this new creation is to give them the power to forgive or retain sins, the sacrament of confession. This is an important reminder that one of the first fruits of the Resurrection is this sacrament.
My dear family, on this Divine Mercy Sunday, I invite you to rediscover God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Confession. I know that Lent and Advent are usually the times in which we look for this Sacrament, but it shouldn't be limited to those times. We should look for it on a regular basis and take advantage of our regular confession times during the weekend. 
In Christ, Fr. Cesar Valencia P.E.S

In Christ,

Fr. Cesar Valencia

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