This past Sunday, the Church celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday, a day dedicated to reveling in the greatness of God’s Mercy and specifically the message of divine mercy entrusted to the poor, uneducated nun of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland in the late 1920s and 1930s. This nun, Sr. Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, was entrusted with private revelations from Jesus telling to her the greatness of His mercy and the job she had as His ‘secretary.’
In this, the Jubliee Year of Mercy instituted by Pope Francis on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this past December, we the faithful have been commissioned in a special way to reflect on the unfathomable divine mercy of God and to participate in the mysteries of His mercy.
What is mercy? Mercy is the gift of God, He whom it is within His power to punish, to forgive our miserable mistakes and transgressions against Him. The Latin word from whence our word ‘mercy’ comes is misericordia. Misericordia comes from miserere (meaning ‘miserable’ or ‘pity’) and cor (meaning ‘heart’). Therefore, God in His infinite and unfathomable divine mercy forgives us of a miserable heart that has done wrong against Him. We are so far from worthy of this mercy, and yet we are in such great, great need of it! By His mercy, our God draws us ever nearer to Him.
In one of the recorded conversations in her diary Jesus said to St. Faustina:
“Know, My Daughter, that between Me and you there is a bottomless abyss, an abyss which separates the Creator from the creature. But this abyss is filled with My mercy. I raise you up to Myself, not that I have need of you, but it is solely out of mercy that I grant you the grace of union with Myself.” (1576)
Though an abyss of Perfect to imperfect, Being itself to created being, Goodness itself to fallen man, Merciful Father to prodigal son separates us from Him, He draws us near in His unfathomable mercy.
Christ crucified is the image of divine mercy. There on the cross Jesus Christ overcame sin and death so that man, weak man, pitiful man, miserable man, might have another chance at true life in communion with God. The blood and water flowing from his side are a symbol of the Eucharist and Baptism. These two great sacraments are instruments of God’s great mercy. Baptism is a washing away of sin and putting on of Christ. The Eucharist IS Jesus Christ Himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity. Nothing we could ever do could possibly ever, ever, EVER allow us to earn these gifts. They are gifts given to the Church in the mercy of God to wash away our misery of original sin, and to nourish us in the strength of heart needed for this sojourn here on earth. We need His mercy.
Today, I celebrate 21 years of life here on this earth. What better a time to contemplate His mysteries of mercy than during the Jubliee Year of Mercy, directly after Divine Mercy Sunday, after spending Lent reading St. Faustina’s diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, as I prepare to make pilgrimage to Poland in the heart of the Divine Mercy message, and on the day I get to particularly revel in marvelous fact of my existence which is entirely owed to the mercy of God? Answer: no better a time!
How often really do we contemplate our existence? I mean, it’s all well and good to celebrate a birthday with cake, a party, spending time with your favorite people, and for legal participants (which I now am!) a refreshing alcoholic beverage. We do all of those things because we know there’s a cause to celebrate, but I think we too seldom meditate on that cause: the fact of our existence.
I exist. There was a time when I did not exist. I do not exist independently. I did not will myself into being. Oh no. I am willed into being, better yet, I am LOVED into being every single second of every day by the God who is Love. How bewildering is that? My very existence, and the very existence of each human person screams the unending and unfathomable mercy of God. I was known and loved by Him long before I was knit together in my mother’s womb. I am loved by Him. I am known by Him. We are loved. We are known. We are wanted. And all this life is a gift from Him.
You know what is even more bewildering? Not only have I been giving this enormous gift of life on this beautiful earth, but through the efficacious grace of the sacrament of baptism, I have been given the chance of life eternal with God. This is what I (and every other person out there) have been made for: life with God. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, damaged our design of life walking in the cool of the day with God. Turning from God in sin, they turned inward and created for themselves hearts wallowing in misery. But Jesus restored us to life through His suffering, death, and resurrection and turns our miserable hearts to joyful ones by the surprising joy of Easter morning.
St. Faustina writes:
“God, who in Your mercy have deigned to call man from nothingness into being, generously have You bestowed upon him nature and grace. But that seemed too little for Your infinite goodness. In Your mercy, O Lord, You have given us everlasting life. You admit us to Your everlasting happiness and grant us to share in Your interior life. And You do this solely out of Your mercy. You bestow on us the gift of Your grace, only because You are good and full of love. You had no need of us at all to be happy, but You, O Lord, want to share Your own happiness with us.” (1743)
So. I exist. Not only do I exist but I live in hope of life eternal. Not only that, but that life eternal would mean participating in the everlasting happiness of God who is Goodness and Love. Can I get a strong, joyful Easter Alleluia?
May we never forget our need of His unfathomable Divine Mercy!
I conclude with the beautiful concluding prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy:
“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”
Jesus, I trust in You!
May God bless you on your way!