Jesus reassembles the pieces of ourselves that we have chipped away in our sins.
At the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, pilgrims can visit a replica of the cell of Saint Faustina. It is striking in its simplicity; when I visited I became fixated on the simple mug on Sister Faustina’s bedside table. The sisters preserved a little drinking cup, and lovingly arranged it, as it would have been, when St. Faustina was alive.
The little drinking vessel caught my attention, because gazing at the cup, I remembered the words of Our Lord to St. Faustina. Jesus said to her, “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.” The vessel Jesus intended was the image he commissioned, complete with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
And there I realized a further meaning. We are called to be vessels of mercy. Just as Sister Faustina held and poured out the graces of Divine Mercy, we too are called to embody and dispense the rays of the Lord’s mercy.
Signs of Mercy
So many cups are emblazoned with slogans. At best the trite sayings we see on coffee mugs inspire or amuse. My students carefully curate the stickers on their water bottles. Demonstrating creativity and originality, the stickers are intended to tell the passerby exactly who the student is. Satire, encouragement, invective, and motivation … all can be found on our common drinking vessels. It is a sign of who we are, or perhaps more ideally, who we wish to be.
Today, Jesus gives the apostles a deeper sign. Not with a slogan or sticker, he reveals the glory of his suffering by bearing forth his wounds. Even in his glorified, resurrected body, the Lord keeps the wounds of the cross as evidence of who he is and what he has done. The wounds declare the closeness of Jesus, his understanding and experience of the suffering of our human condition.
St. John Paul II writes,
In the humiliated and suffering Christ, believers and non-believers can admire a surprising solidarity, which binds him to our human condition beyond all imaginable measure.
The wounds convict us of Jesus’ identity. They are testimony of what he has set out to do. They show us that we can trust who he says he is and what he says he has done for us.
But the messages on coffee cups or water bottles, all too often, easily fades away. With too many runs in the dishwasher or the wear and tear of daily life, the slogans and symbols dissolve. The messages become incomplete, unobservable to the passerby. It’s no longer clear what they mean.
Jesus invites us to imitate him, to be vessels of mercy. The experience of life, that is the sufferings and sorrows on this side of heaven, wears us down. The slogans and stickers of our hearts need to be refreshed, renewed.
This is precisely why Jesus gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit and the mercy of Confession. His heavenly grace stops the leaks and cracks, making us whole once more. Jesus makes us whole again, reassembling the pieces of ourselves that we have chipped away in our sins.
St. John Paul II writes,
You are burning with the desire to be loved and those in tune with the sentiments of Your heart learn how to build the new civilization of love. A simple act of abandonment is enough to overcome the barriers of darkness and sorrow, of doubt and desperation. The rays of Your divine mercy restore hope, in a special way, to those who feel overwhelmed by the burden of sin.
No vessel of our hearts is beyond Christ’s power to repair. This is the power of his merciful love, to draw all humanity back to himself.
Jesus, I Trust in You
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, may our hearts ring with the words, “Jesus I trust in you!” We might be leaky vessels, little cups with faded slogans, but the Resurrected Lord will renew us. Jesus who died now lives! He has borne every sorrow of heart, nothing can be kept from him. He is the balm the world needs, the answer to the contagion of death, the solace for our loneliness and pain.
Jesus can make us whole, he can and will restore us. This day, every Christian voice should cry out, “Jesus, I trust in you!”