Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Priest as Custodian of the Divine Mercy

APRIL 8, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Lord Jesus said to St. Faustina: “No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My mercy, and this is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable mercy.” (Diary, 570) The Feast of Mercy that we celebrate today in the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated persons, gives us the opportunity to speak about priests as proclaimers of the mercy of God.

On the evening of Easter Sunday, the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them: “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven.” Having offered himself upon the Cross as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins, the Lord Jesus, at his resurrection, gave priests the power to absolve sins. The Lord’s death on the cross made this possible. Having risen from the dead, he sends his disciples on a mission of mercy: In my name, repentance shall be preached from Jerusalem until the ends of the earth. The Lord sends his priests to preach repentance. This mandate comes from the Lord’s desire to forgive and to bestow mercy: “I am Love and Mercy itself. There is no misery that could be a match for my mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is granted – it increases. The soul that trusts in my mercy is most fortunate because I myself will take care of it.” (Diary 1273) If the Lord is not willing to forgive, then he would not send his disciples to preach repentance. He desires to forgive. All we have to do is to trust his mercy and never underestimate his goodness. “Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am holy and just, but does not believe that I am mercy and does not trust in my goodness. Even the devils glorify my justice but do not believe in my goodness. My heart rejoices in this title of Mercy.” (Diary, 300)

Together with the mandate to proclaim his mercy, the Lord gave his priests the power to absolve sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament makes the Lord’s mercy accessible to us. No sin is too grave that it could not be forgiven at confession. We should trust that the Lord has given priests this great power to absolve sins. “Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy. There the greatest miracles take place and are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of my representative (the priest) and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.” (Diary, 1448)

Therefore, the priest proclaims the Mercy of God by preaching about it and even more so, by absolving sins in the sacrament of Confession. As the Father sent his Son to the world so that all who believe in him might be saved, so the Risen Christ sends his priests to declare forgiveness in his name. Let us avail of Christ’s Easter gift. Let us confess our sins and trust in his mercy!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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