This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday—the Sunday after Easter. The main propagator of this devotion was Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish religious Sister to whom Our Divine Lord appeared repeatedly back in the 1930s. He appeared to her in a certain guise which he asked her to have painted and then copies could be made of the painting which she supervised. It shows Our Lord standing as a young, adult man, with his heart visible in front of his chest. From his sacred heart emanate red and white rays falling upon the earth. These rays represent the blood and water which flowed from the wounded chest of Jesus on the cross, as Saint John recounts it in his gospel. Some years ago, before she was canonized, my travel group and I had the great privilege of celebrating Mass just beneath the original picture of Our Lord, source of Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina’s grave was just below the picture in the chapel of the Sisters’ motherhouse in suburban Cracow.
We might well meditate a bit today on the concept of “mercy.” The Latin word from which it comes is “misericordia,” which means “a heart that grieves.” However, the grief is over the misfortune or suffering of another, not oneself. Our great Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas says that all that God does to and for us is motivated by God’s mercy, and that divine mercy is omnipotence in the face of human suffering. God looks upon us and sees the trouble that we have gotten into by our sins. His love for us prompts him to “have mercy” on us, and to do what is needed to help us. The greatest of all God’s acts of mercy toward us was the incarnation of his Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, leading to the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. By his death, Jesus atoned for our sins. By his resurrection, he gave us hope of eternal life. As a victorious soldier returns from battle bringing with him the plunder and booty of his enemies, so our Divine Champion returns from his battle with the forces of evil with the spoils of his war. They are divine pardon, forgiveness, mercy. That is why on the very night of that first Easter Sunday, our Lord said to his apostles: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven; whose sins you retain are retained.” The sacrament of penance and reconciliation is given to us by the newly risen Savior; by means of it, his redemption of the world will be distributed and dispensed to those who seek it. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.