For the last sixteen years, the Church, at the direction of now Saint Pope John Paul the Great, the 2nd Sunday of Easter has been dedicated to the Divine Mercy of Jesus – which this painting you see here in front of the Ambo so beautifully depicts. It was Jesus himself who, in private revelation to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun from the Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, back in the 30’s, said that it was his wish that His Divine Mercy should be made known throughout the world.
Jesus said to St. Faustina one day:
“Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy”.
The Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ is no new revelation for scripture is replete with stories of his mercy, statements about his mercy and testimony to his mercy. We hear of God’s Divine Mercy week after week as we gather here around His Altar – especially at this time of year. Mercy after all is the meaning of Easter: for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son. That Only Son is the one we worship and adore because He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified on our behalf taking upon Himself the sins of the world, even descending into Hell, all too ultimately rise from the dead – so that we might know the mercy of God – a mercy that, just like God’s love, is for all of us – even, no especially, the most egregious sinner. If I have heard one repeated message as I have walked with people in faith over the last almost 30 years it is the resounding sentiment that people simply cannot believe that God could forgive all that they have done. And yet here we stand in the light of an image and a message that says everything to the contrary – just like Jesus standing in the midst of his frightened disbelieving disciples who could not believe their own eyes despite the fact he was standing right in front of them – the reason why this image is so important that we bless it – for it is Christ standing in our midst.
The story of St. Faustina in a way echoes that of John in our second reading from Revelation. Both followed the direction of our Lord to write down what they saw. And we are the benefactors of their visions – John who gives us so striking a message we conclude the very book of our Christian story with it – The Book of Revelation completes what we believe to be the public revelation of God to humanity. St. Faustina’s record of her encounters with Christ we call private revelation and is meant to remind us that our God is a dynamic one – not stuck on pages written two thousand years ago – but living and active; coming to us now in our joys and in our struggles with his continued message of love. Jesus told St. Faustina,
“I do not desire to punish humanity but draw it ever closer to my heart” – the heart of Divine Mercy.
Despite the beauty of his invitation, this is a message we have to work hard to receive and believe. Just like “Doubting Thomas” in the gospel today I think we all struggle with not knowing – what proof do we have? – so in our hearts of faith we cry out “not until I put my finger in the wounds on his hands!” The message of the picture of Divine Mercy is like the answer of Jesus to Thomas, “Blessed are those who don’t see yet believe – but so that you might believe here! – go ahead and see.” This isn’t just a reproduction of a beautiful painting – but like a Risen Christ standing in front of Thomas on that Easter Sunday it is Christ standing in front of US asking us to trust in his mercy. Jesus promised Faustina in his encounters with her that,
“…whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 300)
“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” (Diary 699)
“I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy.” (Diary 1109)
Today….this very day…the complete remission of our sin and any punishment that hereto now has accompanied that sin – GONE! It’s as simple as it was for Thomas that day to reach out to touch Christ. He stands before us now like he stood before Thomas then and asks us to believe – to trust in Him. To seek his mercy and love and cast all our fear, all our pain, our longing, our questioning, our despair, our hatred, our envy – to cast it all away and simply receive his mercy. It sound to our human ears like a deal that’s too good to be true but that’s what “unconditional” love leads to – mercy that to be received we simply need to reach out to get it. That reaching out on our part is the key to the gift that awaits us – an Easter gift to the whole world – just like the disciples reaching out to a tomb they thought would be inhabited but found it empty. Jesus lives for one purpose, to give us his love and mercy….all we have to do is have the courage to come and get it.
Believe it or not.
Do not let today pass without accepting this gift. Fr. Don will be present in the M-143 (the room right next to the Chapel) immediately after Mass to hear confessions. Then having received our precious Lord, body and blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion and going to Confession the gift that the Divine Mercy offers is ours. It really is that simple.
+ Dcn. Tom
3 April 2016