April 11, 2021: Sunday of the Divine Mercy - Pastor’s Corner
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!
As we enter into the 50 days of Easter, we might ask: how do we celebrate the Resurrection as we slowly and safely emerge from the pandemic? As I reflected on this question, it became clear to me our present situation is not unlike the original disciple’s experience of Easter. On the first Easter Sunday, the disciples are gathered in the Upper Room, self-quarantined and afraid. They have no idea what the future holds or if they have future at all. Their lives have been turned upside down. Huddled together, they cower in the cramped, locked Upper Room which has become a prison. In this moment of anxiety and fear, Jesus passes through the barred door and says, “Peace be with you.” It is a moment of Divine Mercy. When the disciples are least aware of Jesus’ love, Jesus is the most generous in sharing it. At the moment at which they are about to despair of his presence and care, He is there. This is mercy: to love when it is not deserved or expected. The disciples discover that to receive mercy is to be surprised by love.
This first Sunday after Easter reveals the deep ocean of mercy that Christ wishes to bestow on the entire world, particularly in this time when we emerge from the pandemic. It is Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast which Our Lord Himself requested in the private revelations to Sister Faustina, which Pope Saint John Paul II promulgated for universal celebration more than twenty years ago.
Just like with his disciples on that first Easter, Jesus wants to break into our homes and sequestered lives and to touch our minds and hearts with his abundant merciful love. Further, He wants to bring His love to the aspect of our lives where we are not free, but locked in small rooms of selfishness, bitterness and loneliness.
But in order to receive Jesus’ mercy, we have to open our lives to him. This takes trust. Often, we consider that God’s mercy is the result of having a sensible, religious experience. For example, we think that we are forgiven only when God gives us sense of serenity of mind or that we will be able to forgive only when the wounds of the hurt have been healed. Only when we can see, touch and experience Jesus in our lives do we consider that He is really present. We think that clarity of spiritual experience is the key to receiving God’s mercy. This is the attitude of the Apostle Thomas: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Unless God definitively eradicates pandemic, injustice and war, He must not care. God’s presence is only revealed in His manifest material blessings. This is the attitude of every Thomas.
In response, Jesus reveals to Thomas (and to us) that trust is the key which unlocks His mercy. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” We want clarity to see Jesus in our lives, but it is trust which activates mercy.
The familiar image of the Divine Mercy which Christ reveals to St. Faustina has as its inscription, the reminder of how we access this abundant mercy. Five words: “Jesus I trust in You.” As we celebrate Easter, let us make this our prayer. In moments of discouragement or financial struggle: Jesus I trust in You. When you’ve sinned and are filled with shame and regret: Jesus I trust in You. As you encounter challenges of daily living: Jesus I trust in You. In the gentle rhythm of this prayer, be prepared to be surprised by God’s mercy!
~ Fr. Michael