St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April 2000, at 10:00 AM, on the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast requested by Jesus in His communications with St. Faustina), His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. [John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day – April 27 in 2014 – by Pope Francis.] At the canonization of St. Faustina, Saint John Paul II said, “Believing in the love of God means believing in His mercy.”
Saint Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God’s generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy.” “The Lord of Divine Mercy,” a painting of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with His left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, “Jesus, I trust in You!”. The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the blood of Jesus which is the life of souls and white for the Baptismal water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God. We have this picture in our own Church.
The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith, and our need for the forgiveness of our sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, in sending His only begotten Son to become our Saviour and Lord through His suffering, death, and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments (all instituted to sanctify us), especially that of Reconciliation.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, explains how the Risen Lord continued to show His Divine Mercy to the sick through the healing and preaching ministry of the apostles in the early Church. The Faith of the apostles enabled them to minister to the people, giving them the Lord’s healing love in “signs and wonders.” The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation (given by Jesus to the Apostle John in exile on Patmos), was intended to comfort and bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians for all time. Today’s selection assures us of the presence of the merciful Lord in our lives and encourages all of us to fight fear with Faith, and trepidation about the future with trust and Hope. Today’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Sacrament of Divine Mercy. The Risen Lord gave his apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:19-23). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.
We need to accept God’s invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.
Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each our loving service. The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and community prayer. c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and receiving the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”