Divine Mercy Sunday Homily.
Today I want to introduce you to the Feast of Divine Mercy, and will try to give you a little introduction what the whole message on Divine Mercy is about.
Private revelations and apparitions which have been authenticated by the Church have added greatly to the devotion of Catholics. However even private revelations and apparitions authenticated by the Church do not add anything new to the fullness of revelation already given to us by Jesus but they remind us that we have not been paying enough attention to Jesus the fullness of revelation. Therefore authenticated private revelations and apparitions are a summons and wake-up call to be ever more sincere in turning away from sin and growing in faith and love of Jesus.
In the year 2000 Our Holy Father Pope John Paul instituted a new feast, the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated, for the first time in 2001 on the Second Sunday of Easter. It arises out of a series of apparitions which a Polish nun, Sr. Faustina, received. Sr. Faustina was born in Poland in 1905. When she was twenty years old she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy where she lived for the next thirteen years until her death on October 5th 1938. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1993 and canonized in 2000.
When canonizing her Our Holy Father said,
“Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr. Faustina to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By Divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the twentieth century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people they know well how necessary was this message of mercy.”
In April 1978 the Holy See in Rome permitted spread of this devotion. This does not mean that you are required to believe in the apparitions or practice this devotion but you are free to do so and free to spread the devotion since the Church has found nothing in it contrary to our faith. The one primarily responsible for the Holy See approving the authenticity of the apparitions was Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, later that year elevated as Pope. In 1981 Pope John Paul said his destined role was to bring the era of Divine Mercy into the world.
“Right from the beginning of my ministry in St Peter’s See in Rome I consider this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world.”
Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy and so we usually call today Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina was privileged to receive apparitions from Jesus emphasizing his mercy, and especially his mercy today. Jesus said, to sister Faustina:
“My daughter, if I demand through you that people revere My mercy, you should be the first to distinguish yourself by this confidence in My mercy. I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.”
Yes the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy, and I demand the worship of My mercy through the solemn celebration of the Feast and through the veneration of the image which is painted. By means of this image I shall grant great graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of my mercy because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works. (Diary §742)
Jesus asked that we pray a novena in preparation for the feast (Diary §1209-1229). The nine days of prayer begin on Good Friday and end today.
On the following morning St. Faustina was taught the other prayers which are to be prayed on Rosary beads. (Diary §474-476) We call it the Chaplet of Mercy.
A number of times in St. Faustina’s diary we see the power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
“Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great Mercy at the hour of death. I want the whole world to know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My Mercy….” (Diary §687)
Jesus said it is a very powerful prayer at the time of death and at the bedside of a dying person.
The souls that say this chaplet will be embraced by my mercy during their lifetime and especially at the hour of their death. (Diary §754)
In February 1931 Sister Faustina saw Jesus dressed in a white garment. He held one hand raised in blessing and the other hand touching his garment at the breast as in this picture. From that point in his garment two rays of light emanated, one red and the other pale. Jesus requested that we venerate this image, which is usually called the Divine Mercy Image.
Venerating a sacred image or statue means performing some act or making some gesture of deep respect toward it because of whom it represents; in this case, Jesus. Concerning the image Jesus said,
“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapter and then throughout the world.” (Diary §47)
Later Jesus explained,
“The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water, which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross..” (Diary §299)
Jesus made it clear that he desires this image to be venerated.
“I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory.” (Diary §48)
No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My mercy, and this is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable mercy. I am making you the administrator of My mercy. (Diary §570)
In the Divine Mercy image, Jesus is moving towards us and asking us to trust in Him. He is asking us not to be afraid to approach Him and to ask Him for His mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. He is calling us to wash away our sins and to receive Holy Communion without stain of sin, because He wants to give us the absolute greatest gift possible today. For Holy Communion to be miraculous, we have to be clean from any sin or desire to sin. Don’t ever be afraid to approach Jesus, waiting for you in the Confessional. Jesus told Saint Faustina that every time we approach the Confessional, that He Himself is waiting there for us. That He is only hidden by the priest and that the priest is, for Him, only a screen. So, if you haven’t had a chance to make your yearly Confession in preparation for your Easter Communion, don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity today to have all of your sins and punishment forgiven. The Catholic Church allows about 20 days for Confession, before or after Divine Mercy Sunday, to gain the special plenary indulgence that is being offered today.
Jesus requested that we honor his mercy at 3 p.m.
This feast of Divine Mercy reminds us of many parables taught by Jesus emphasizing God’s mercy. We remember the three beautiful parables of Luke 15. God is like a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go in search of the one lost one. God is like a woman who searches the entire house to find the coin she lost. God is like a father who comes out of the house to welcome back his prodigal son and who comes out of the house a second time to entice the elder son to come in and join in the party. Even today’s Gospel story is a good example that our Lord cares about every single person. Today through the feast of Divine Mercy God has thrown a party during which we can receive God’s infinite mercy. Let us go to the party and receive God’s mercy.