On this fourth Sunday of Easter we hear in the Introit words of Psalm 33: “The loving-kindness of the Lord filleth the whole world, alleluya: by the word of God the heavens were stablished, alleluya, alleluya.” By this opening text of the Mass the Church bids us rejoice today that the Lord has, by the merits of his passion and by his victory over death, rescued us, his people, from the certain death which is the result of our sin. In the light of the paschal season we are reminded today that, as the Easter Sequence proclaims, “Death with life [has] contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.”
The saving action of Christ, by which he leads us from the clutches of death and returns us to fullness of life in him, is the ultimate sign of the loving-kindness or mercy about which we hear in today’s Introit. Our restoration to life in God—the undoing of the serpent’s guile and the sin of the Garden of Eden—is a fruit of the Father’s love for us; a love seen most perfectly in the passion of his only-begotten Son, by whose death we have life. That mercy is at the heart of the message of the gospel. It is the cause of our joy and our hope, and it is the catalyst for our evangelizing mission, to bring all peoples to know and to love Christ in the communion of his holy Church. With Pope Benedict XVI we can say, “mercy is the central nucleus of the gospel message” (Regina cœli, 30 March, 2008).