The Feast of the Divine Mercy is an important feast of the Church, inviting us to more fully appreciate the depth of God’s Mercy. In today’s Gospel (Jn 20:19-31), we hear of the Resurrected Jesus appearing on two consecutive Sundays to the Apostles in the upper room. It is most significant, that although resurrected, Jesus still has the nail marks of the crucifixion, and the wound in His side from the solder’s lance. It would be more logical, that the resurrected body of Jesus be perfectly glorified, with no sign of the wounds. (E.g. when our bodies are resurrected in the end times, we do not expect victims of car crashes, fires, etc., to be resurrected with any disfigurements from their wounds.) But God chose to have the wounds remain in the resurrected body of Jesus. (Apparently with no signs of the wounds due to the flogging or the crown of thorns however.) What can be the message of this?
There are possibly several things God wants to tell us with the wounds of the crucifixion still present on the resurrected body of Jesus, but chiefly among them is that the crucifixion is an important part of the paschal mystery, and that is not to be forgotten. On this feast of Divine Mercy, the wounds of the Resurrected Christ, remind us of God’s Infinite Font of Mercy. God could have remained in heaven after humankind had sinned and sent the message that we were forgiven through the prophets, and then waited for us to repent. However, God, knowing our sinful hearts, and our blindness, foresaw that we would never by our own power come to ask for repentance. So, God humbled Himself in Christ Jesus, coming down from heaven and joining us in our humanity. As unfathomable as this is, God still went further. He not only joins us in our humanity, He joins us in the consequences of our sin, by being crucified for us. On the cross He joins us in our suffering due to sin, and death, and there forgives us. Because of the fall, we were dead in our sins. So, God in His Mercy, joined us even there. In the depth of our sin, in our wounds, He is waiting, and we like Thomas are invited to reach out and touch the wounds of Jesus, so that by His wounds, our wounds are healed. Pope Francis has said, “The Name of God is Mercy.” In the book of that same title, he explains that Mercy is not simply the forgiving of our sins by God, it is the way God forgives our sins. It is the great distance God has gone to forgive us, while we ourselves did not even know we wanted or needed forgiveness. In Jesus, God joins us in our humanity, sinful and wounded, so that we may be transformed by His divinity, and begin to recognize our need and desire for God, and so come to the point of asking for God’s forgiveness and Mercy. This is the Divine Mercy we celebrate today!
As unfathomable as this is, it is still not the end of God’s Divine Mercy! He goes still further! In the Gospel passage for today, we see Jesus forming the Church, which continues the incarnation of His Diving Mercy through all space and time! His divine presence is in His Mystical Body, the Church. Jesus breathes His Spirit onto the Apostles giving them the authority to administer, in the flesh, His forgiveness. From the side of Christ on the Cross, flowed Blood and Water, symbolizing Baptism and Eucharist. These sacraments, instituted by Christ, and handed down through the ages by His Apostles and their successors, allow us to receive the Breath of Christ, giving us a share in His Divine life, transforming us from the sin and death of original sin, into Children of God. Our eyes are slowly opened to our sinfulness, our hearts slowly transformed from stony hearts to loving hearts, and our minds slowly enlightened by His teachings. This transformation in us, is His work. The work of His Divine Mercy!
The depth of God’s Divine Mercy is beautifully enshrined in the painted image of the apparition of Jesus to Sr. Faustina. It is the image of the Resurrected Jesus, with the wounds of the Crucifixion, and red and white rays of His Divine Mercy flowing from His Heart opened by the Solder’s lance. The rays represent water and blood, His Divinity and His humanity, and the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. The rays thus represent the birth of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Just as from the First Adam, God formed wo-man his companion, so too from the New Adam, God forms the Church, the Bride of Christ, to whom He gave His Divine life. He continues to breath Divine life into us for all time and through all space, by the Sacramental life of the Church.
This feast shows us the importance of the Church, as an instrumental part of God’s saving plan. It is part of the Paschal Mystery. All of us have the important and urgent vocation, to be witnesses to the world of Christ’s Resurrection, and instruments of His Infinite Mercy for all. Through the Church God thirsts for the salvation of all people. Therefore, all of us should seek to bring others into the Church. Each of us, are sent by Christ as the Apostles were sent by Christ in this same scripture passage. Each are sent into the world as disciples of His Divine Mercy. But some are also sent to build up God’s Church, especially Religious and Priests. Are you called to be a minister of God’s Divine Mercy as an ordained member of His Church, or as a Religious Brother or Sister? Learn more about the Franciscan Way of Life on our Next Come and See, April 20-22 in Castro Valley, CA. Contact me, Fr. Paul, for more information.
Happy Feast of the Divine Mercy! Pace e Bene.