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Living the Gospel – April 11, 2021

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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.”
Psalm 118

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a beautiful, biblically based devotion whose modern form is attributed to St. Faustina, a 20th century Polish nun. Its message is simple and direct. The Divine Mercy means – and states – that God loves everyone. No exceptions, and that can be difficult to understand. Simply stated, God wants us to recognize that His mercy is far more powerful than our sins. We can always pray to Him with repentance and trust, receive His mercy, and, most importantly, allow His mercy flow generously through us to others. This sounds easy to do, doesn’t it?

When it involves events that irrevocably and painfully changed our lives, however, it’s likely to be difficult. Here’s one example: many years ago, I painfully learned that the only way I could heal from a family tragedy was to pray for the perpetrator. Academically and in practice, I knew most of the therapeutic techniques that could have offered relief, but none had the power to deal with a wound that penetrated my soul this deeply. I finally decided to pray for the offender – this was the only thing left untried. Believe me, it was an uphill battle, as fear, anger, pain and memories tried to distract me. But I continued. Very, very gradually, I began to pity him and feel compassion towards him – then to consciously wish him a better life – finally; I forgave him and freely prayed for his healing. Mercy healed me – and lifted a terrible burden from him.

With that we could thoughtfully pray with sincerity for people who hurt us and exploit us. And when we’re doing this, we also need to remember that we also need forgiveness.

On this second Sunday of Easter, may we remember that Jesus forgave His executioners. And he rose in glory to show us that we can do the same. May we bear our own suffering as graciously as He did and may His Divine Mercy bring peace and joy to us all.

Dorothy Hathway Forbes, OCDS