Divine Mercy sets us free
It is easy to think of Divine Mercy as no big deal at all. We never doubt God’s mercy. We take it as a given – and we assume it would take us doing something really extraordinarily wicked to lose that mercy. But as Holy Week has reminded us, it is not as easy as that.
Divine Mercy depends on the Resurrection.
St Paul tells the Corinthians “If Christ is not risen from the dead, then our preaching is useless, and so is our faith,”(1Cor 15:15) We have to remember: “Men do not die for things they doubt.” The entire Christian faith is built on the certainty of the Resurrection –the certainty of the Apostles and the witness of the early Christians is a key to that. These Christians did not doubt. Neither should we! Many died for holding this truth.
The Church celebrates Easter Sunday for eight days in a row – culminating on a day that has only recently been called the Feast of Divine Mercy, this Sunday. This is a great reminder that without the Resurrection, there is no hope for mercy.
But Divine Mercy sets us free. A central tension in the film, ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ,’ is between Paul and a prominent Roman opponent who gets upset at Paul when he can’t promise him a miracle. “You have certain powers, but claim to have no authority of your own,” he said. “You sound more like a slave than a leader.” “All men are a slave to something,” Paul answers. “The question is – what?”
This is the key question of Divine Mercy Sunday, when God grants the Apostles the power to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22)
This is the great gift the Passion of Christ paid for – this gift of forgiveness that sets us free from slavery to sin. But notice what Jesus says: Some sins will be forgiven; some will be retained. There are many ways to retain our sins – making them habits, not trying to end them, never confessing them. But there is only one way to see them forgiven – confession, with a firm purpose of amendment to change our lives.
Divine Mercy sets us free – but only if we step out of our cage and ask for it.
Divine Mercy entails our own works of mercy too, passing on what we have received. In addition to following God’s commandments in our own life, love & faith, requires more. We have to touch others with the mercy and love we have received:
“Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead … [and] giving alms to the poor” (CCC 2447).
St Faustina asked us to pray, ‘Jesus, I trust in you’. And we need to make sure it shows. Don’t let all the blessings of this weekend go to waste, grasp them with thankful hands!!
Fr David Jones OLW