Today is the Second Sunday after Easter, or as was designated by Pope John Paul II- Divine Mercy Sunday. This designation was made on April 30,2000 the same day that Pope John Paul II Canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska.
Saint Faustina was born in Poland in 1905. At the of 20 she became and nun and died just thirteen years later from tuberculosis. During her brief yet influential life, Sister Faustina became known as a mystic and visionary. In a handwritten diary she kept during the last four years of her life (which when converted to print exceeds 700 pages), Sister Faustina recorded the many visions and encounters she had with our Lord, Jesus Christ. At first discounted and banned by the Vatican, her diary and writings are now held as divinely inspired.
Sister Faustina wrote of her first visit from Christ- as she lies reposed in her room at the convent, on a Sunday evening in February 1931. Appearing to her in a luminous white garment, with brilliant rays of white and red light emanating from his heart, Jesus instructs her- “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in you.” In this first visitation Jesus tells Sister Faustina: “The first Sunday after the celebration of my Resurrection, is to be solemnly blessed as the Feast of my Divine Mercy.” (Diary of Sister Faustina. 1-49) Not knowing how to paint, it was nearly three years before the image was completed and hung in the convent chapel.
After completion of the painting, and as her health declined over the next four years, Sister Faustina documents in her diary a myriad of visitations she received from Jesus. She writes that Jesus implores the veneration of this painted image and calls upon us to delight in his unlimited mercy. “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. I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor; the first- by deeds, the second- by word, the third- by your prayers.” (Diary of Sister Faustina. 742)
Christ teaches us this valuable lesson in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A traveler is beaten and robbed, being left for dead on the side of the road. Both a priest and a Levite, two of the most respected personalities of the time, see the victim and cross to the other side of the road. But a Samaritan, a despised second class citizen, “is moved with compassion”; approaches and tends to the victim. Going so far as to place the victim upon his animal and transports him to an inn. Leaving the next day he over pays the innkeeper, instructing him to take care of them man- adivsing he will pay whatever else is owed when he comes this way again. Jesus asks those gathered, who has treated the man rightly. He is told by the crowd- those who showed mercy. “Jesus told them, ‘Go and do likewise.” [paragraph paraphrased Luke 10:30-37]
Sister Faustina records in her diary an inspired prayer- a chaplet, that Christ “begs be prayed for threefold benefit: to obtain mercy, to trust in the mercy of Christ and to show mercy toward others.” Sister Faustina demonstrates how the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is to be prayed using a simple Rosary and “at the direction of our Lord, prayed at three o’clock- his hour of greatest suffering and most complete mercy.”
“Oh Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us- I trust in you. Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One- have mercy on us and on the whole world. Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair, nor become despondent- but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is love and mercy itself. Amen.”
Before her death, Sister Faustina writes, “There will be a war- a terrible, terrible war. The nuns of Poland, indeed the peoples of the world- must pray for mercy. For no matter how great our sins, Christ’s mercy is greater. Trust in Christ and receive His mercy and let His mercy flow through you.” [Diary of Sister Faustina. 786]
So, we are to trust in Christ. To accomplish works of mercy- forgive, encourage, comfort and pray. Be patient. Clothe that naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned and infirmed, and with compassion bury the dead.
Sometimes it is difficult to trust- even in our friends, let alone in Christ who remains unseen. As in our Lectionary for today, we can be like doubting Thomas- unless we see the nail marks in Christ’s hands and put our fingers into them, or put our hands into His side- we may not believe, we may not trust. [paraphrased John 20:25] But do not forget, “Jesus said to Thomas- ‘Because you have seen me, you believe- so blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe!” [John 20:29]
“In His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope- through the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 1:3]
This is the Second Sunday after Easter. This is the Feast of His Divine Mercy. Christ lives! Christ is merciful! Jesus, I trust in you!