I’d like to first give a shout out to my mother and my father, who are celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary this day. I have been so very blessed to have these two beautiful people as my parents, showing me how to love God in their love for me and for one another. I have learned so much about patience and mercy from my mother, and I have learned so much about commitment and respect from my father; and from both of them I have learned love and sacrifice. They have showed me, in their own way, that Sainthood is possible for ordinary folk like us, and I hope and I pray that I and they will enter gloriously into the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What is Divine Mercy?
Divine Mercy is the most beautiful thing that a human being can hear. As we know, our first parents Adam and Eve both royally messed up; and, now, because we are intimately connected to them, we also royally mess up. We lie, we cheat, we kill, we steal, we fight, we fornicate, and the list goes on and on. We do so much evil, we sin so much, that if we could see the state of our soul when we do such things, we would be beyond revolted by what we see. And, yet, God looks at us with pity and with mercy, and He gives us the chance to run back to him like a prodigal son or daughter.
In 1931 our Lord appeared to Saint Faustina in visions to bring His message of Love and Mercy to an all too sinful world. I think that as humans, we have a tendency to view this mercy as a free pass; but that’s kind of the exact opposite of what it is. With this message of mercy comes a warning: if we do not run to this mercy, we are lost. St. Paul says, “where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20), and so Christ bringing this message of great mercy is also Christ pointing out the fact that humanity is exceedingly sinful. In fact, there are several instances throughout the Diary of St. Faustina that God is ready to exact justice on the earth for mankind’s sin, yet, in His mercy, He does not. Here is one such example:
“I saw an Angel, the executor of God’s wrath… about to strike the earth…. I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the Angel’s helplessness, and he could not carry out the just punishment…” (Diary, 474)
Now, it’s not as though God suddenly changed His mind, because we know He does not do that, He’s immutable (unchanging). So, these visions must have been for our benefit, as if God were saying to us, “Look at what the sins of mankind reckon, but look also at the great love and mercy that I have in My Heart for mankind.” How can we not be overjoyed at this love? Don’t we burst with joy when someone we love looks beyond our own failures, our betrayals of their love? When you say or do something that harms your brother or your sister, your boyfriend or your girlfriend, your husband or your wife, and they decide to forgive you, does this not bring us so much joy? But, when it comes to God, the only one who is truly worthy of all of our love and affection, we are nothing but apathetic. Let’s not be like this, let us be overcome with joy for God’s great love and mercy.
In the midst of all this, though, there seems to be a weird paradox. What is this paradox, you ask? Well, it seems that God does not withhold His justice for our sake, it seems that He does so for the sake of His Only Begotten Son:
“I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it. Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to look through Our Lord’s wounds. And I understood that God blessed the earth for the sake of Jesus” (Diary, 60).
We repeat this every time we recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” This has to do with God’s Justice. As we know, it was necessary for us that Christ die on the Cross, because Christ was the only sacrifice that could make just recompense. However, we also know that God Himself did not have to do that. He did not need to assume our human nature and die for us, nor did He need to redeem us. God gets absolutely nothing out of our salvation, because God is perfectly fulfilled in Himself, and so He lacks nothing outside of Himself. God does not need humanity, but humanity needs God. Therefore, our creation and our salvation are activities of God that are purely for our own sake. God’s mercy and God’s justice are realities that are caught up in one another. One could say that God is not truly just without His mercy and God is not truly merciful without His justice. This seems confusing, what does this mean?
It was God’s mercy and love that brought us into being, because it was purely for our own good that God created something outside of Himself to share in Himself, and it was His justice that condemned us when we rebelled against Him through our sin. It was also His justice that demanded recompense for our sin, and it was His mercy that provided Himself to be that just recompense; and so we see that God’s mercy satisfies His justice.
This is the beauty of the Divine Mercy, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). I truly believe that we all fail to recognize how great a gift this is, that God Himself would reach down into our misery and pull us up to Himself. God is the perfect gift-giver, because He gives of Himself with no way of receiving anything in return. How do we make sense of such a gift? I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to know, because this is a great mystery that is beyond our human comprehension; however, know this: whatever the reason for God showing such an abundance of mercy, mercy that is entirely free and undeserved, it manifests to us the incomprehensible love of God for man, and we would be fools to neglect to reap the fruits of such mercy. Let us not be fools, let us not neglect Christ as He opens the merciful depths of His Merciful Heart. Throw yourselves into this great mystery, and let God’s love and mercy envelop you this day and every day of your life. All in love, pax Christi.
O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy – to Your compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out: Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming – that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all of our wretchedness. For Jesus is our hope: through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven. (Diary, 1570). Amen.