Divine Mercy

This past Sunday the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday) is designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated by Roman Catholics worldwide and by many Anglican Churches as well. Although this is primarily a Catholic devotion I believe my message today will be of interest to all of my readers, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The Divine Mercy is a devotion to the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through our hearts towards those in need of it. The devotionbegan with the apparitions of Jesus received by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)

In her diary later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions, visions and conversations with Jesus which she wrote in her diary. The three main themes of the devotion are:

  • To ask for and obtain the mercy of God,
  • To trust in Christ’s abundant mercy,
  • To show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them

In her diary she reveals that the earliest element of the devotion of the Divine Mercy was an image. On February 22, 1932 she reports Christ appeared to her with two rays radiating from His heart, and He told her to paint an image of what she saw, and to add a signature, “Jesus I trust in You.”

These two rays depict blood and water. The pale ray represents water and the red ray represents blood. Church doctrine teaches us that this image, or for that matter any holy image, no matter how beautiful, is just that, simply an image. However, art work of this nature can direct our attention to the mysteries of faith and help us to understand their meanings. To read more about St. Faustina you can click here, but now let’s move on to study the message.

Clearly we all know God is merciful. In Psalm 118: 1-4 we read:

Let the house of Israel say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

Let those who fear the LORD say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

But let’s take a look at the third point in Saint Faustina’s list above and that is, “To show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them.” What does the Bible teach us about this?

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” (Mt 6:12)

“The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” (Mt 7:2)

As I have loved you so also should you love one another” (Jn 13:34)

So the message of mercy then is this: God loves all of us, and no matter how bad our sins are, God wants us to know that His mercy is greater than our sins. This is an incredibly powerful message so let me restate it. No matter how bad our sins are, God wants us to know that His mercy is greater than our sins. He wants us to trust Him. Finally, He wants us to let His mercy flow through us to others. Let’s read yet another verse.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7)

Perhaps one of the best depictions of a person’s struggle to both accept God’s mercy and then to show it to another comes to us in the book, play and move Les Miserables. In this story, Javert a police officialspends his life tracking down Jean Valjean an ex-convict. Early in the show, Javert vows to track Jean Valjean down even if it takes a lifetime to bring him to what he understands as justice. Read these words sung by Javert in his song “Stars.”

Click here to listen as you read

There, out in the darkness

A fugitive running

Fallen from God

Fallen from grace

God be my witness

I never shall yield

Till we come face to face

Till we come face to face

He knows his way in the dark

Mine is the way of the Lord

And those who follow the path of the righteous

Shall have their reward

And if they fall

As Lucifer fell

The flame

The sword!

Later in the same song Javert sings the followingwords, which reflect a commom misunderstanding that there must be a price paid by everyone for any wrong that has been committed. What he lacks is the understanding that Christ has already, through His mercy, paid the price by dying on a cross to forgive the transgression.

And so it has been and so it is written

On the doorway to paradise

That those who falter and those who fall

Must pay the price!”

Later in the show when Javert comes face to face with MERCY offered up by Valjean, who himself had been given mercy by God through the actions of the Bishop, could not accept the mercy. He could not comprehend anything other than punishment for the crime. Read this excerpt from his fateful words as he sang just before jumping from the bridge to his death:

Click here to listen

Who is this man?

What sort of devil is he

To have me caught in a trap

And choose to let me gofree?

It was his hour at last

To put a seal on my fate

Wipe out the past

And wash me clean off the slate!

All it would take

Was a flick of his knife.

Vengeance was his

And he gave me back my life!

Damned if I’ll live in the debt of a thief!

Damned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase.

I am the Law and the Law is not mocked

I’ll spit his pity right back in his face

There is nothing on earth that we share

It iseither Valjean or Javert!

And my thoughtsfly apart

Can this man be believed?

Shall his sins be forgiven?

Shall his crimes be reprieved?

And mustInow begin to doubt,

Who never doubted all these years?

Myheart is stone and still it trembles

Theworld I haveknown is lost in shadow.

Is he from heaven orfrom hell?

Anddoes he know

That granting me my life today

This man has killed me even so?

Javert could notaccept mercy. He lacks trust and certainly he did not have the capacity to show mercy towards Jean Valjean. Now what about us? How do we do when it comes to the subject of mercy? We should ask ourselves this today-DoI really truly trust the Lord’smercy? Do I believe His mercy is bigger than my sins? Do I fully accept His mercy or do I still live in fearof Hiscondemnationof me becauseof my sins? Am I prepared to share His mercy with others by my actions, my words and my prayers? Please pray this prayer with me:

Eternal Father,I offer You the Body and Blood,Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Holy God, Holy MightyOne, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Brian Pusateri
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