Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Paul II and the Divine Mercy Devotion

Divine Mercy Sunday this year is not an ordinary one because it will be blessed by the beatification of John Paul II. This well loved pope is very much a part of the Divine Mercy devotion. When he was the Archbishop of Krakow, he lifted the ban from the Diary of Sr. Faustina Kowalska. As Pope, he canonized Sr. Faustina and also established the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday and graced this day with indulgences. Thus, it did not surprise us that the Lord called his faithful servant to his rest on the evening of April 2, 2005, which was the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.

That the Lord should want the Feast of Mercy to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter already shows us that the Paschal Mystery of the Lord is to be appreciated with the theme of Mercy. On this day, the Lord Jesus invites St. Thomas to probe his wounded hands with his fingers and his side with his hand: “Doubt no longer but believe.” The Sacred Wounds of the Lord remind us of the Cross – that cruel instrument of torture and death which was transformed into an instrument of salvation. Pope John Paul wrote in Dives in Misericordia: “Even in the glorification of the Son of God, the Cross remains, that Cross which…speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful in his eternal love for man…Believing in the crucified Son means ‘seeing the Father’, (it) means believing that love is present in the world and that this love is more powerful than any kind of evil in which individuals, humanity, or the world are involved. Believing in this love means believing in mercy. For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love’s second name…” (Dives in Misericordia, 7) “In the eschatological fulfillment mercy will be revealed as love, while in the temporal phase, in human history, which is at the same time the history of sin and death, love must be revealed above all as mercy and must also be actualized in mercy…It is in the Cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination.” (Ibid.)

“In his resurrection, Christ has revealed the God of merciful love, precisely because he accepted the Cross as the way to the Resurrection. And it is for this reason that – when we recall the Cross of Christ, his Passion and death – our faith and hope are centered on the Risen One; on that Christ who ‘on the evening of that day, the first day of the week,…stood among them’ in the Upper Room, ‘breathes on them and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Here is the Son of God, who in his Resurrection experienced in a radical way mercy shown to himself – that is to say the love of the Father which is more powerful than death. And it is also the same Christ, the Son of God…who reveals himself as the inexhaustible source of mercy, of that same love …that is more powerful than sin. The Paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy, its living sign in salvation history and in eschatology. In the same spirit, the liturgy of Eastertide places on our lips the words of the Psalm: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.” (Ibid.)

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