THE SECOND SUNDAY OF THE EASTER SEASON – DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY: As we read The Columbus Dispatch, watch any of the network or cable news programs, or go a news web page, we might be asking ourselves why there such a lack of peace in the world. Actually the answer is quite simple: there are a great many in this world who do not take God seriously, nor do they humbly approach Him to receive His mercy. There is a lack of peace in the world because some still want to place their opinions on the same plain as God; for whatever reason they feel compelled to play God by redefining right from wrong based on their opinions, or imposing their will upon God rather that submit to the will of God, and refusing to turn back to him to beg his forgiveness and receive it. And the longer we refuse to acknowledge our need for God’s mercy, seek it and share it, the worse it gets. For peace, we have to recognize our need for God’s mercy, ask for and receive that mercy, and then share that mercy with others. This typically involves three steps:
- Recognize our need for God’s mercy. Like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), we have to realize that we have sinned, and that without God’s forgiveness, we will die in our sins. But God does not desire the death of the sinner, but that the sinner return to him and live, which leads us to the second step.
- Trust in, humbly ask for, and receive God’s mercy. In this world, Jesus established only one ordinary way for us to receive this mercy for all the sins we’ve committed after our baptism: the sacrament of reconciliation, confessing our sins to Christ through the priest. There are a lot of people today, including Catholics, who say, “I can confess my sins directly to the Lord!” Out of real love for you, please let be very clear: you can confess your sins to whomever you want — to your best friends, husbands or wives, parents and children, co-workers, social workers, shrinks, bartenders, radio call-in show host — to anyone you want. But you cannot receive forgiveness there, which is the point. The only means in this world in which we can be certain that the Lord forgives us is when we confess our sins to a priest, whom Jesus has ordained, and sent out from the Upper Room for this purpose.
- Share it with others. We’re called to be merciful with others. Jesus said, “Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful… The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you.” In another place, the Lord says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” The Lord’s point is that the pre-requisite for our receiving mercy is our showing mercy to others. After having taught us the Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”) in which we pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us,” the Lord instructs us, “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your sins.”
As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, let us remember what Lord said to Saint Faustina: “I want… the first Sunday after Easter … to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow.”