, ,

Divine Mercy Sunday

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

According to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: “The family, is so to speak, the domestic church” (11). It is in the family where we first learn that God is “Love and Mercy itself” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1074).

In his homily on the occasion of the canonization of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, St. John Paul II had this to say about the love and mercy of God:

Jesus told Sr. Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy” (Diary of St. Faustina, p. 132)…It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.[1]

These words were spoken at the beginning of the Third Millennium and they ring even more true today. Man has a God-sized hole in his heart and seeks to fill it with the futile pursuits of individualism, moral relativism, and unbridled sexual pleasure. Broken individuals and families are the fruits of these narcissistic endeavors. John Paul II offered a vision of what man needs to fulfill the deepest longings of the human heart.

What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr. Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.

However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of fraternal unity.[2]

As the domestic church, the family has the prime mission of teaching their children the love and mercy of the Father. The family is God’s witness to the world of His merciful love. By their loving and merciful example, the lost will be drawn to the Father.

Christ has taught us that “man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called ‘to practice mercy’ towards others: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7)” (Dives in misericordia, n. 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual. His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man.[3]

It is in being merciful to the broken, downtrodden, lonely, hungry, and homeless that people will see Jesus in us. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world. As He has so graciously shared His love and mercy with us, so are we to share it with a world so in need of it.

“Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor…In this sense Christ crucified is for us the loftiest model, inspiration and encouragement. When we base ourselves on this disquieting model, we are able with all humility to show mercy to others, knowing that Christ accepts it as if it were shown to Himself.”[4]

John Paul II relates the pain St. Faustina felt in her heart for the sufferings of her neighbors. To reveal the sufferings of others is to be Christ in the world. Parents are to model to their children the merciful love of God and in turn, share it with those in any need.

Sr. Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: “I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours’ sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbor” (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure!

It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.[5]

In closing his homily, John Paul II described the most overwhelming of all afflictions common to man.

This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”, which Providence intimated through Sr. Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life.[6]

May the light of God’s love and mercy shine brightly in your family as you share this most blessed message with the world.

[1] Homily of John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, §2, St. Peter’s Square, Rome; April 30, 2000; internet: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20000430_faustina.html (accessed April 6, 2018).

[2] Ibid., §3.

[3] Ibid., §4.

[4] John Paul II, Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, §14, St. Peter’s Square, Rome; November 30, 1980; internet: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_30111980_dives-in-misericordia.html (accessed April 6, 2018).

[5] Homily, §6.

[6] Ibid., §7.