Was inspired by the encyclical ‘Dives in Misericordia’ of 1980, Pope John Paul II, when twenty years later – 30 April 2000 – explained the sense of mercy, canonizing Sister Faustina Kowalska: “Through the heart of the crucified Christ’s mercy God comes to people: ‘my daughter, say that I am Love and Mercy in person’, ask Jesus to Sister Faustina. Christ pours out this mercy on humanity through the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love “.
“Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius”; “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever” (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ’s lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: “The two rays”, Jesus himself explained to her one day, “represent blood and water”.
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: “My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified”, Jesus will ask Sr Faustina. Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love’s “second name”, understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Jesus told Sr Faustina: “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy“. What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.
However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father’s love and of fraternal unity.
Christ has taught us that “man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called “to practise mercy’ towards others: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5: 7)” (Dives in misericordia, n. 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.
His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. In fact, love of God and love of one’s brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (5: 2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie.
Today, fixing our gaze on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!