It’s also what Jesus most desires to give us …
There is nothing more that man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights of the holiness of God.
St. John Paul II shared these striking words during his pilgrimage to the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow in 1997. These words, but even more his life, show us his deep understanding of the mystery of the Heart of God, and the mystery of the human heart.
From the very depths of our inmost beings we cry out for someone who will look upon us with empathy, understanding our imperfections and struggles and seeing beyond them. Whether aware or not all human hearts are crying out for the merciful God. His heart is filled to overflowing with compassion for us. He is not scandalized with our misery. He never tires of forgiving. He is always ready to generously bestow graces upon us, even more than we dare to ask for.
He is not scandalized with our misery.
The mystery of God’s merciful love is what we meditate upon in a special way during the seasons of Lent and Easter. Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection speak to us most powerfully about the inconceivable love of God for us. Therefore, to crown these most holy days we’ve been given the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday on the last day of the Easter Octave.
St. John Paul II instituted this feast of Divine Mercy for the universal Church exactly 20 years ago, in 2000; he died on its Vigil five years later, in 2005; he was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011; and he was canonized, again on this very Solemnity of Divine Mercy, in 2014. Whoever is able to read the signs of the times, let him read.
St. John Paul II, the Pope of Mercy, by establishing this new feast in the Church fulfilled Jesus’ desire expressed almost 70 years earlier to Sr. Faustina. Jesus said to her:
My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable Mercy. 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 complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are open. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My Mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (…) The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the fount of My Mercy. (Diary, 699)
Our distressed world is suffering from lack of hope, sinking in the sea of depression. A stark example of this is a worldwide statistic published by the World Health Organization: a person takes his/her own life every 40 seconds! In contrast to this rising level of despair in life, God’s desire is that we would all have life in fullness, now and forever!
Jesus’ words from St. Faustina’s Diary are filled with passionate love for his children. The word desire appears 306 times in her journal. That very fact alone reveals to us the merciful Face of the caring God, whose love is like a burning fire! He desires that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls. The mere reference to a “refuge” and a “shelter” clearly implies that we are threatened, that there is a dangerous enemy who is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Our enemy is real, but usually stays hidden and therefore more dangerous. In addition to this spiritual enemy, we are threatened by the world that surrounds us, and which we often underestimate. And we are threatened by our personal sinful inclinations and choices, which we too easily justify.
God gives himself to us fully, He offers us His own Heart, and all It contains, first and foremost in the sacraments. When we look at the Divine Mercy image, we see the rays gushing forth from Jesus’ heart. They symbolize the purifying and life-giving sacraments – most of all His merciful presence in the sacrament of Baptism and Confession and in the Eucharist. He is patiently waiting there for us with hands overflowing with gifts! Too often He waits too long, and to no avail….
It could be a temptation for those of us who are not experiencing the tsunami of the world’s darkness, or who are already nourishing a healthy relationship with God, to undervalue our own personal need for Divine Mercy, to doubt truly that, in my case, ‘there is nothing more that I need,’ as John Paul II says. If this is indeed a doubt lingering in the recesses of our consciousness, may this Feast Day be an occasion for us to ask for the grace to see what God has done for us, and is doing for us; the grace to see that our very stability and goodness are themselves the work of his mercy. May it also be the occasion for an examination of conscience:
In this aching world God’s inconceivable, unimaginable, incredible mercy should be preached on the rooftops and shared in some way in every conversation. How many souls could be saved if we only used well the opportunities given to us?! The gift of time, the gift of encounters with other people: whether a friend or a stranger, the other is always a brother, a sister, a child of the same Father, and perhaps completely unaware of this divine connection. Perhaps those who cross our path have no idea of all the blessings prepared for them by God in His loving plan for their lives, perhaps they do not see the meaning of their lives. How are we using the opportunities of time and our encounters with others to share with them the good news of God’s great mercy? Let us then humbly turn to our merciful Father in a simple but zealous prayer asking Him to open our eyes and hearts so that we would first gratefully receive and then enthusiastically share His mercy with everyone whom we meet.
St. John Paul II encouraged all of us: Be apostles of Divine Mercy! Let us feel called to carry the message of God’s benevolent and compassionate love to all, so that through us He may heal all wounded hearts and restore all broken lives.
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