Divine Mercy Sunday
In a sense, the Feast of Divine Mercy is the culmination of everything we have celebrated in the Paschal Mystery.
The entirety of Jesus’ identity from the first moment of his existence in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a revelation of the merciful Father, and after he ascended to heaven the Holy Spirit was sent to continue that revelation in the Church he established. Divine Mercy Sunday looks back to the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord and forward to Pentecost, bringing these mysteries together with the commission that Jesus gave to the Church to preach, reconcile, and sanctify people for God.
All of us are called to be apostles of God’s mercy. The sacraments that we receive are given to transform us by the mysterious interior work of God’s grace into the image of Jesus, so that our thoughts, words, and actions reveal the merciful Father as Jesus does. This transformation is not accomplished without our cooperation – the positive determination to make choices in accord with what God has revealed. God’s grace will help me to grow in compassion, patience, courage, and devotion, but only if I freely seek to direct my human abilities to that end.
For many of us forgiveness is one of the biggest obstacles to growing in God’s grace. It may not be immediately obvious, but the difficulty I have being compassionate to people in the San Pedro parking lot or in the traffic backups our fast-growing city relate to the deeper grievances I hold against parents, siblings, and estranged friends; the will to justify unforgiveness toward them is the same source of indignation when someone in the grocery check line inconveniences me.
Divine Mercy is the remedy for this because God’s mercy comes first. I learn to forgive because God forgives me. But the Gospels make clear that if I am cooperating with God’s grace, then experiencing his mercy should shape me and the way I relate to others. This may be a long process, but sometimes the slowest learning is the deepest and the most incremental transformations are the most complete. Entrustment to God’s mercy is process that starts with realizing that I need God’s forgiveness, desire it, and ask for it. And when I experience God’s merciful love and allow it to touch my heart, I can’t help but want to share it with others.