Living the Gospel – April 28, 2019 – Divine Mercy Sunday

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Divine Mercy Sunday has an interesting history – and for me, it offers a kindly and compassionate perspective of God’s love. It originated in Poland, a nation that has been devastated by centuries of wars. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was given to the Church in 2000 by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina (d. 1938) of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties, and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.”

We often see images of Jesus clothed in a white garment, one hand raised in blessing and his other hand touching his chest. From the opening of his garment at his chest, there are two large rays of light, one red and the other pale. In Sr. Faustina’s vision of Jesus, he spoke to her, saying “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous, and the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….”

On another occasion, she heard these words: “My daughter, I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.“

I’ve always thought that there is a fine line between justice and mercy. What is merciful to a tragedy overwhelmed family can also be seen as a relief for their suffering. Conversely, if the perpetrator of a crime goes free, a victim’s family, in their pain and suffering, often wonders if there is any justice for them. But I think that life offers us both mercy and justice. Basically, I’ve come to believe that God’s mercy is a mystery that can take years to see and understand. As the banner at our ambo states, “Trust” needs to be our approach to God during hard times. Trust in God’s love. Trust in His mercy. Be grateful.

Dorothy Hathway Forbes, CSJA