Archive for the ‘Divine Mercy’ Category

Divine Mercy Sunday

April 12, 2010

Today is the final day of the Easter Octave and the Feast of Divine Mercy.  We focus in a particular way, this day, upon the great mercy of our God.  We should never forget the Justice of God; it is a great help to the spiritual life to keep the reality of the last judgment before our eyes.  While not forgetting God’s Justice, lest we become presumptuous, we should nevertheless place great confidence in God’s mercy and entrust ourselves completely to His mercy.

There is not a sin that God will not forgive, if pardon were genuinely sought.  As long as we ask the Lord for mercy with some level of sorrow for our sin and a firm purpose of amendment we can trust that Our Lord will grant us the mercy that we seek.  Our God is rich in mercy.  So much does He desire to pour His mercy out upon us that He did not withhold His own Son from us.  God loves us so much that He sent His own Beloved Son to die so that we might live.

The very purpose for which the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became a man, suffered died and was buried and rose again from the dead was precisely to bring us, sinful men and women, mercy.  The Eternal Son of God, Who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father; for Whom and through Whom all things were created; set aside the glory of Heaven, which He had from all eternity, and became a man like us in all things except sin for one reason and for one reason only: to reconcile us with the Father.  While we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  (cf. Romans 5:8)

Jesus Christ came to bring mercy and pardon to sinners.  The Pharisees were scandalized when He forgave sins.  The ability to forgive sins is reserved to God alone, they argued. (cf. Luke 5:21)  Jesus proved His divine authority to forgive sins by the miracles that He performed.  He also shared His authority to forgive sins with His Church by bestowing that authority upon the Apostles.

Today’s Gospel is the account of the institution of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.  Jesus breathed on the Apostles and gave them the authority to forgive sins.  “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”  As He was sent to forgive sins, so also He sends the Church to forgive sins through the persons of her ministers: the bishops and priests.  What a wondrous gift we have in the Sacrament of Confession!  Through that great Sacrament we, sinners, obtain pardon of our sins and mercy.  Through the absolution of the priest sinners are reconciled to the Father, grace is restored to the soul; souls that were dead in sin are brought back to life.

God did not spare His own Son, but allowed Him to be handed over to death that we might be saved from sin and death.  (cf. Romans 8:32)  Jesus Christ, Who was perfectly obedient to the Father, was sacrificed in order to save us, who fall into sin again and again.  How unfathomable is the love that God has for us!  As we contemplate Our Lord’s great love and mercy, let us not forget that we, too, are called to be merciful as Our Heavenly Father is merciful.  (cf. Luke 6:36)

We will be held to the same standard as that with which we judge others.  It can be very easy for us to desire God’s mercy; it can be more difficult for us to be merciful.  Yet, Our Lord commands us to stop judging, lest we ourselves be judged.  (cf. Luke 6:37)  In order for us to be forgiven our trespasses, we must forgive those who trespass against us.  If we want to be shown mercy, we must show mercy.  “Blessed are the merciful,” Our Lord says, “for they shall obtain mercy.”  (Mt 5:7)

To whom are we to show mercy?  We are to be merciful to everyone, without qualification.  We are called to show mercy to those whom we might think do not deserve our mercy; we are to show mercy to those who might not ask for our mercy, we are even called to be merciful to those who might not even want our mercy.  We are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  We are called to be reconciled with our brother before we bring our offering to the altar.  There isn’t anyone that we can justify withholding mercy from and there isn’t any reason that can justify unwillingness to forgive.  If you don’t think that you can forgive someone for what they have done to you, just remember that Jesus Christ forgave those who were putting Him to death as they were putting Him to death.  As they drove the nails into His hands and His feet, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  He Who was perfectly without sin forgave those who inflicted upon Him a most shameful death, a death that He did not deserve.  He underwent that most cruel death in order to save us and to give us the supreme witness of God’s love.  A Crucifix shows us the price that was paid to win mercy for us.  If Jesus Christ suffered that ignominious death in order to obtain mercy for us, how can we refuse mercy to others?  We cannot.

Let us thank God for gift of the Sacrament of Penance and make frequent use of it.  Let us approach the tribunal of God’s mercy with deep humility and reverence.  Let us also remember to show mercy to others in the same measure that we wish to receive mercy from Our Lord.  Let us place unbounded hope and trust in God’s mercy and, in turn, show that mercy to others.