The Gift of Divine Mercy

The Gift of Divine Mercy “Pure love is capable of great deeds, and it is not broken by difficulty or adversity. As it remains strong in the midst of great difficulties, so too it perseveres in the toilsome and drab life of each day." St. Faustina At the end of the Octave of Easter, the eight day celebration of Easter to kick off the 50 day celebration of the Easter Season, we have the beautiful feast of the Divine Mercy. Some of you are familiar with St. Faustina's devotion and her writings about the Divine Mercy. You may also be aware of how much St. John Paul II loved this devotion and how he established this second Sunday of Easter as its feast. However, this is not a new devotion. This devotion shares in the beauty of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In a difficult time and in a harsh world, Jesus offers His bleeding heart to sinners. He will one day come as a just judge, but He desires first to come to you as a merciful friend and Lord.  The Gospel of John 20:19-31 On this Sunday we continue on through the 20th chapter of St. John's Gospel. Please take the time today or this week to prayerfully read this chapter!  What does Mercy do? I've shared this before but it is worth repeating. This story of Jesus appearing in the upper room is one of my favorites in all of scripture. It is repeated elsewhere, most notably at the end of Luke's Gospel. I love it because it so intimately captures the gift of Mercy in action.  Actually this passage used to bother me. I used to really hate how Jesus still had His wounds from the Crucifixion. After all, Jesus had just conquered sin and death. The God-man had risen from the dead and is now to reign forever in peace and love, sporting a perfect glorified body and being free from all the worst parts of the human mess. Then He appears to His disciples in the upper room, they must have been terrified, in fact we hear that they first think He is a ghost. The first thing He does is show them those awful wounds! One day in seminary I was in Mass and I was completely distracted. I was distracted by all this pain and guilt I was still carrying from some past sins. I couldn't get past how I had hurt or ignored friends, used some people for my own ends, and just had generally been awful to some. Then during the course of the Mass, I managed to take in the raising of the Eucharist and the Crucifix behind the altar. I realized this fundamental truth to God's mercy in that moment.  Those wounds are marks of glory. Jesus truly did defeat sin and death. He bore no pain, He bore those marks to show exactly where grace had worked in His life, to show exactly what love had overcome. I had been to confession dozens and dozens of times since I gave up living a less than Christian life. Some sins, I had confessed many times again and again to some very patient priests.  What I had failed to really see is that when I walked out of the confessional each time God had in fact defeated sin in my life. He had in fact overcome every evil thing I had admitted to in that confessional, but He left the marks, the wounds, even a little guilt, in my soul in order to remind me exactly where He was at work in my life! Do you see how much of a gift that is? How much mercy and love is wrapped up in His forgiveness? He does defeat sin, He took it away from me in confession, I was truly forgiven! Then when I walked out of confession back into a fallen world, where I would be tempted to fall again, He lets me share in my own life not the marks of sin and death, but rather the marks of glory in my heart.  My friends, when you go to confession (which every single person should do FREQUENTLY) God is so merciful and good as to overcome ANY and ALL sin. He also knows you as only our loving Lord could, He knows that you need a reminder of His love as you go do battle in this world again. That constant offer of love, the constant reminder of Jesus' intentional friendship with you, the one thing that will bring peace to you even in the most difficult situation is His Divine Mercy.  


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