Sunday 16th April we celebrated the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday. Many people consider this day as their ‘favourite’ feast, others may have heard of it and some have no idea about it. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter, which is the last day of the Easter Octave. Since the Feast Day I have been reflecting on what what would be a good way to live through this period between Easter and Pentecost. It occurred to me that I could go back to the Feast Day, and in particular St Faustina's words. After all, this Feast started the period of 50 days before Pentecost.
In the 1930s, Jesus visited a young Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska. She was mesmerised by what was happening as Jesus asked her to share His message of love and mercy with the world. He also told her to imitate his mercy.
The first thought that came to mind was Faith. St Faustina was visited by Jesus and she would have needed deep, divine Faith in what she was hearing.
Sr Faustina kept a Diary of everything Jesus said and of all the apparitions. We read from her Diary:
“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing; the other was touching
the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said
to me, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.” (Diary, 47)”
But how does one describe God’s mercy? There is an excellent explanation in footnote 52 in St John Paul's 'Dives in Misericordia'. It’s too long to post here but can be reached through this link
The easiest way to explain, is to say mercy is compassion or forgiveness. The person who is in need of either, may have brought it upon themselves perhaps through sin or human failures.
In a homily given on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy on Sunday 3 April 2016 Pope Francis said this:
“In God’s mercy, all of our infirmities find healing. His mercy, in fact, does not keep a distance: it seeks to encounter all forms of poverty and to free this world of so many types of slavery. Mercy desires to reach the wounds of all, to heal them. Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters. Curing these wounds, we profess Jesus, we make him present and alive; we allow others, who touch his mercy with their own hands, to recognize him as “Lord and God” (Jn 20:28), as did the Apostle Thomas. This is the mission that he entrusts to us.”
This mission is given to us. We cannot but think of the state of our world just now. So many people affected by wars, global climate challenges the list is endless. If we are frightened of losing our hope and Faith there are comforting words from Jesus found in Sr Faustina’s diary:
“My child, life on earth is a struggle indeed; a great struggle for my kingdom. But fear not, because you are not alone. I am always supporting you, so lean on Me as you struggle, fearing nothing. Take the vessel of trust and draw from the fountain of life – for yourself, but also for other souls, especially such as are distrustful of My goodness.’” (No. 1488)
Therefore in the spirit of the resurrection and all that was explained along the road to Emmaus we realise that the mission of the apostles is our mission also.
Therefore how do we put this into practice? Again we turn to St Faustina for Guidance:
“For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy:
the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting;
secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray - that too is mercy; and
thirdly, deeds of mercy."
So for this period of time between Easter and Pentecost this could be our way to carry on following Jesus as we wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This prayer to St Faustina should help us each day...
Lord, please make my heart Your Heart. I give it to You dear Lord to use in
this world to touch many lives. May I so humble myself before You that a flood of Mercy flows through me to touch the lives of many. I love You dear Lord, help me to love all Your children with a burning love. Jesus, I trust in You.