A Wave of Mercy Is Poured Out Over All Humanity
Today we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday.
When Jesus returned to his apostles after the Resurrection, his first act, was to forgive and to reconcile, to be merciful. The handpicked of our Lord's disciples, with the exception of Saint John, abandoned Jesus, and scattered at the first sign of trouble. And what does he do when he returns to them? No scolding, no reproaches. No, I told you so, Peter, just peace be with you. The profound mercy of Jesus Christ fills the upper room, that had been filled with fear.
When Jesus shows them his hands and his side, he commissions them to go out and apply that divine mercy to the world. They will forgive sin not by their own power, not in their own compassion and mercy, but by Jesus who is working in and through them.
The story of St. Faustina illustrates how God's mercy is poured out over all humanity in modern times. When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, he told her to tell the world about his mercy and his love. Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. The world will never find peace until it turns with trust to divine mercy.
Full Audio Transcript
00:01 One of the things that Protestant Christians find difficult to understand about the Catholic faith, and one of the questions that maybe you've been asked before is why would you go to another person to confess your sins? Why to another fallible, sinful, fallen human being to ask for something which only God can give. It's a reasonable and a good question and some of the direct biblical evidence for that is found in our gospel today in the upper room as simply the teaching of Jesus himself. The upper room is locked out of fear. The apostles, the handpicked of our Lord's disciples are hidden away up in that upper room, out of fear that they might face the same fate, the master had.
00:58 These are the men that Jesus says we're with him from the beginning, the ones who followed him throughout his public ministry who saw him work miracles and listened to him teach and explain the mysteries of the kingdom. They are the ones who argued over who was the greatest among them and who swore they would never abandon him. They are the ones, however, with the exception of Saint John, who fled and scattered at the first sign of trouble and now they are gathered together again, when the Lord appears to them. And his first words to them are these: peace be with you. They are reconciled to him. No scolding, no reproaches. No, I told you so, Peter, just peace be with you. The profound mercy of Jesus Christ fills that room that had been filled with fear.
02:09 They are reconciled. His first act, that for he won forgiveness on the cross was to forgive and to reconcile, to be merciful. To those fallible, weak, and sinful men, he shows his hands and his side which bear the marks of the passion and he commissions them as the Father has sent me, so I send you. And immediately afterward he breathed on them and said: receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.
02:50 Jesus, who is the only one that can forgive sins, allows these men to participate in that gift of forgiveness, a gift that flows from the wounds of his hands and his feet. And especially from his side.
03:09 Those first recipients of his mercy he makes into ministers of his mercy, bearers of his mercy. And when Jesus shows them his hands and his side, he commissions them to go out and apply that divine mercy to the world. They will forgive sin not by their own power, not in their own compassion and mercy, but by Jesus who is working in and through them.
03:42 And in a sense, the very fallibility and humanity of the Church's minister in the sacrament of confession manifests the divine power and his divine origin. Perhaps God allowed these apostles in particular to be so weak and to fall so low that they would not ever become puffed up or stingy with the gift of mercy, which they so much needed, and which our Lord so freely gave to them.
04:17 A little story from the life of St John Vianney, that sums up well this understanding of mercy. As you may know St John Vianney, he's the patron saint of parish priests. He was probably the greatest confessor in the history of the church. And in fact, for decades of his priestly ministry, he heard confessions 16 to 18 hours a day. People would come from all over France and stand in line for three, four, five days so that he could hear their confession.
04:52 And so one time as he was leaving the confessional, a woman cried out to the line, you must be a great saint to be such a good confessor. To which he replied, "if I am a good confessor, it's only because I'm a great sinner."
05:13 Those who experience the depth of the mercy of God are best able to share it. Pope Saint John Paul the Great, he said very beautifully in a homily on the Easter Gospel, that from there, from that upper room that had been filled with fear and is now filled with the presence of the risen Christ. Suddenly a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. A wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. That through the sacrament of confession, through these apostles and their successors into all times and places until the end of the, the mercy of Jesus Christ would be available to all who desired him.
06:04 A wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity, a beautiful and sitting image for this divine mercy Sunday and it was at the canonization of Saint Faustina Kowalska, who was the first saint of the new millennium, that Pope Saint John Paul the Great, made the declaration that the second Sunday of Easter thereafter would be known as divine mercy Sunday. She who was called the apostle of mercy was a special saint and calling people back to the mercy of God.
06:41 I imagine many of us here are somewhat familiar with her story and a in which in a lot of ways is very ordinary, an unremarkable. She was born in 1905 and later entered the convent of the congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. She came from a very poor family that had struggled on their little farm during the terrible years of World War One. And having had only a few years of simple education, she was given the most menial tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or in the vegetable garden or as the porter. But then something extraordinary happened in the midst of her ordinary life.
07:23 On February 22nd, 1931. Pay attention to that year. In 1931, Hitler had almost accomplished his rise to power. Our Lord Jesus appeared to sister Faustina.
07:39 And she tells us in her diary under this date, and I quote: "in the evening when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing. The other was touching the garment of his breast. From the opening of the garment at the breasts there came forth to large rays, one red and the other pale. After a while, Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see with the inscription Jesus, I trust in you.'"
08:14 And we have an image of that in front of our altar today, for our feast day. And this was part of a series of mystical revelations that our Lord made to Saint Faustina concerning his mercy. He told her to tell the world about my mercy and my love. Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God.
08:39 Now some people I know make it a little hesitant when they start talking about these sorts of mystical revelations, what we call in the church private revelation. And there were certain many bishops, priests and theologians who early on rejected the claims of our Lord's messages to her, until being won over by reading her diary. People perhaps I think see these sorts of things as belonging to kind of an antiquated, superstitious religiosity.
09:10 But I would just simply want to comment on that sort of attitude that what can be at the very heart of this is a presupposition, a presumption that God doesn't really speak to the world anymore and such a presupposition is false. God does speak to the world constantly and sometimes in extraordinary ways. After all he's God, he can do that and that's what he did with Saint Faustina.
09:41 And in the message of of Saint Faustina and all the other approved apparitions, there's nothing new that's being taught. The Lord has already revealed to us all that is all the truths necessary for our salvation. But when he gives a private revelation what he does, it's not a new teaching, but rather an emphasis on an already existing part of the Gospel. An emphasis that is particularly needed at a certain historical moment of time.
10:11 And we think about Saint Faustina and the revelations of divine mercy that happened at the beginning of the 20th century. That makes a lot of sense. Why? Because as we know now, having lived through the 20th century that it was the bloodiest, most murderous century of the, of the history of recorded history. There haven't been more people killed in a single century, then all the other preceding times. The 20th century - two World Wars, numerous other wars, genocides, the undermining destruction of family life, the legalization of killing unborn children and the terminally ill, new heights of corporate greed and corruption. The list could go on and
11:02 In the face of that mess and the horrific evil of that century, Jesus reminded us of the Gospel, right? A particular emphasis of the Gospel that His mercy would triumph. That's what was the message said to Saint Faustina and that was the message to the 20th century and to us even today, because the, the aftermath of that century has certainly spilled into this one. As he told Saint Faustina, he said, the world will never find peace until it turns with trust to divine mercy.
11:45 And to tune ourselves more deeply to the mercy of the Lord, we're encouraged to practice that devotion of, of, of divine mercy: to go to confession regularly, to gaze upon the image of divine mercy and to burn that simple prayer into our hearts. Jesus, I trust in you.
12:04 In the face of the evil of the world: Jesus, I trust in you.
12:09 In the face of overwhelming things in life, an adverse sickness, diagnosis in the face of unemployment or facing an addiction: Jesus, I trust in you.
12:23 In the face of the enormity we may feel of our own sinfulness: Jesus, I trust in you.
12:30 Jesus' mercy can triumph over all, because he is the Lord and he has risen from the dead. And practicing this devotion has a purpose - to make us vessels and instruments of mercy. That having been the recipients of the Lord's mercy, we become vessels and instruments of his mercy to others. That we would practice that spiritual and the corporal works of mercy, that the church always recommends that we do, of putting mercy into action.
13:12 So like those disciples in the upper room, the Lord has been so generous to us and giving us his mercy and to convince us of the power of his mercy. And so now as he says to the apostles, he says to us, as the father has sent me, so I send you that we would share this gift of mercy with the world.