As you know, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed the Second Sunday of the Resurrection season as Divine Mercy Sunday. It was his purpose that all of us would be reminded in a special manner of the intensity of God’s mercy made manifest for us in the person of his beloved Son, Jesus. He is our God, our brother and our friend. Also let me ask you to picture in your mind how you see the face of Jesus, not necessarily the Jesus of Holy Thursday evening or Good Friday. Rather call to mind the face of Jesus, risen from the dead and appearing to the apostles, the favored women who, by the way were the first to proclaim “He is risen.” If you want to consider Jesus as your friend, I do believe that it is really impossible to have a faceless friend. Am I not correct? So, if you do not have a face that you talk with when your want to talk with Jesus, it is time that you get one picture in your mind that you can always call up when you dial up Jesus for a needed or wanted conversation. Now back to Divine Mercy Sunday.
To understand the extraordinary and abundant treasure of God’s mercy, we must begin with the example Jesus entrusted to us. His life’s fulfillment was anchored on a cross after several brutal hours of torture. It is these events which earned for us the forgiveness, the pardon of our sins.With every lash of a soldier’s whip and every smashing of the nails driven into the sacred body that we should hear what Jesus must have been whispering to the Father: “Forgive them.” Yes without any doubt every heartbeat Jesus experienced was his never-ending pledge of divine mercy. The picture of the risen Christ with two shafts of light shining from his sacred heart represents our friend’s sending to the world the great wave of his mercy. While at times it is challenging for human nature to understand fully the divinity of Jesus’ mercy, we can capture a sense of it in human actions.
Recall, if you will, the day when John Paul II journeyed to a Rome prison not to meet with the prisoners but to have a conversation with one particular prisoner. He was a young man at the time. He had tried unsuccessfully to kill the Pope as he rode through St. Peter’s Square. Their meeting was not an encounter between enemies. The room where they met was filled with love and pardon, not with anger or hostility. “I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned...”
Another human example that may help anyone who is having difficulty understanding God’s mercy and pardon comes from a tragic event in 2006. In a small Amish village in Pennsylvania a crazed man killed five school girls and wounded seven others before turning the gun on himself to end his life. The distraught parents returned the lifeless bodies of their children where they cleansed them of their dried blood. The sad task completed, all of the parents went to the home of the widow whose husband had ended their children’s lives. The grieving parents came to the grieving wife and assured her of their forgiveness and pardon for her husband. These wounded parents buried any anger or hatred prior to the burial of their offsprings.
The message of this Sunday is simple and two-fold: assure yourself that God’s mercy and forgive where your pardon is needed. Forgiveness is the central theme of this event. Seek Jesus’ forgiving mercy and extend your forgiveness where needed. This is the reason for Divine Mercy Sunday.