How great is the Divine Mercy!

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2nd Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy): April 15, 2012
Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31

Nine days ago, we remembered the sorrowful Passion of our Lord Jesus: when he freely stretched out his arms between heaven and earth, and poured out his Precious Blood for us. And for those who were putting him to death, who were pounding the nails into his hands and feet, he said: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Nine days ago, we remembered that great provision of Divine Mercy, when, after our Lord Jesus had handed over the spirit, a soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out (John 19:30, 34)—those two great streams of grace that were symbolized by the two rays of light that St. Faustina saw shining forth from his Heart:

  • the water that fills every font of baptism, by which he gives forgiveness and rebirth;
  • the Precious Blood that fills every chalice whenever the sacrifice of the Mass is offered;
  • and the great grace offered in confession, in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, which we enter as sinners to find mercy, forgiveness, and love. For we heard him empower and commission his apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” He made them—and through them all of his bishops and priests—agents of his Divine Mercy.

Truly, as St. John writes, this is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ. He has conquered death; he has risen, glorious and triumphant; and he shares his resurrection life with us—his Sonship, his victory—for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.

What a tremendous fountain is the Divine Mercy that Christ has opened for us! For he does not give us the punishment that our sinful deeds deserve. But much more than that: he supplies what we so desperately need, both corporally and spiritually. For this is the meaning of mercy, of the Hebrew chesed and the Greek eleos: out of his abundance, he supplies our need. By the grace that pours forth from his Heart, he gives us a new heart; by breathing on us, he gives us a new spirit. (Ezek 36:26) In a Divine Mercy that is a superabundance of justice, Christ poured forth his blood, as St. Paul writes to the Romans, for the demonstration of God’s justice, that He might be just and the justifier—for the demonstration of God’s righteousness, that he might be righteous and the one who makes righteous—the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:25-26)

To him, we come; we open our hands; we receive that mercy that pours forth from his Heart; and we exult in it, in thanksgiving. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures forever.

And having supplied us with mercy, our Lord directs us also to show mercy to others. He told his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful… Love your enemies and do good to them… Give and gifts will be given to you.” (Luke 6:35-38) And we well remember that parable in which the king forgave his servant a huge debt, and later had to say to him, “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?” (Matt 18:33)

And so it is that we who have received mercy are directed to show it to others: physically, in the seven corporal works of mercy, by feeding, clothing, and visiting; and spiritually, in the seven spiritual works of mercy, by instructing, forgiving, comforting, and praying. And how clearly we see this in our first reading, which speaks of the early community of believers in Jerusalem. While we need not live exactly the form of life they led, the root is exactly right: no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but rather they recognized that what was given to them, whether material or spiritual, was meant to supply the needs of others, in mercy. “Freely you have received: freely give.” (Matt 10:8)

And what precious mercy we are here to receive at this Holy Mass. In the words of the prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Almighty eternal God,
behold, I come to the Sacrament of your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
as one sick to the physician of life,
as one unclean to the fountain of mercy,
as one blind to the light of eternal brightness,
as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity,
that you may graciously cure my sickness,
wash away my defilement,
give light to my blindness,
enrich my poverty,
clothe my nakedness,
so that I may receive the bread of Angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
with such reverence and humility,
such contrition and devotion,
such purity and faith,
such purpose and intention,
as are conducive to the salvation of my soul.
Grant, I pray, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood,
but also the reality and power of that Sacrament.
O most gentle God,
grant that I may so receive the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he took from the Virgin Mary,
that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into his Mystical Body
and to be counted among its members.
O most loving Father,
grant that I may at last gaze for ever upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son,
whom I, a wayfarer, propose to receive now veiled under these species:
Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.

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