Since I have been a priest and have been in the seminary, I have learned a few things about God. The one thing I have learned about God is He is very patient with us. No matter how stubborn we are, God is very patient with us.
The second thing I have learned about God is that He never gives up on us. He keeps coming back to us and reveals Himself to us over and over and over again.
The third thing that I have learned about God is God is mercy. Pope Francis said that the name of God is mercy. Anything that we will ever understand about God is His mercy.
In Scripture, we hear His mercy endures forever. I know we often hear that diamonds will last forever. They do not. But mercy lasts forever. God’s mercy will be the one thing that endures forever.
I don’t know about you, but I never knew much about Divine Mercy Sunday until just recently. The first time I ever heard about St. Faustina and Divine Mercy Sunday was back in 2004. In 2004, I was an intern for another parish called St. John Vianney in Mentor. There was a woman at the parish that gave me a book by St. Faustina. She said, “Father, if you want to be a good priest, read this book.” I looked at the size of the book and I thought, “I have enough reading to do. I am never going to read that book.” It is 700 pages.
I took this book and put it on my shelf. It sat there for over a decade. Over the last 10 years, I have received six copies of this book. People have handed me this book over the years and have said, “Father, you really need to read this book. It will make you a great priest.” What did I do with those books? I put them on the shelf. Seven hundred pages! That is way too much to read.
You think at some point I might get it, right? I might get that God is actually trying to get me to read this book. Well, it wasn’t until this year, the Year of Mercy that I decided to read this book. When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, declared this to be the year for mercy back in the beginning of Advent, he wrote a letter and I read the letter. It was the most beautiful letter. Then he did an interview about the book on mercy and the name of God being mercy. It was beautiful. And over and over again, who do you think he referred to? St. Faustina. St. Faustina. Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy. So I thought, I better read this.
I began reading it and I could not put the book down. I read all 700 pages. It absolutely blew me away. It helped me realize that we have this God who is so merciful. It is beyond anything that we could understand or comprehend. If ever there is a doubt that God will forgive our sins, if there is ever a question that He is going to be with us at the last moment of our life, Divine Mercy completely reassures that.
What is Divine Mercy? I think, I was intimidated by this. I am even more intimidated to preach about it. And here is the reason why. When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, He did so, many times. He kept appearing to her. She was journaling and she wrote in her journal, “Jesus, you see how difficult it is for me to write, how unable I am to put down clearly what I experience in my soul.” She was having these amazing experiences, and it was so difficult for her to try and express it or articulate it.
I find myself thinking the same thing about a Homily. How can I possibly express or capture what she has said in this diary and what Jesus revealed to her? I find it even more difficult now to preach about this.
I say simply, if you have never heard it before, the one thing I want you to know is, you are so loved by God the Father. God loves you. Jesus absolutely delights in you. You are His beloved sons. You are His beloved daughters. He will never give up on you. He will never abandon you. There is no sin that He will never forgive. The name of God is mercy. The most important attribute of God is mercy. Our God is mercy. You do not have to be afraid to go to Him, ever, because His mercy endures forever.
St. Faustina, who was a Polish nun, reported that she was having these visions. Jesus was coming to her. As she was conversing with Him, she ask that Jesus appear to her. He said to her, “I want you to paint what you see.” And this is the image that she saw. She saw Jesus appear before her. From His heart were two rays: one ray was red, as He explained was the blood that gushed forth from His side; and the other was white, which symbolized the Baptism. He asked her to paint, to have an artist paint these images, and to have them displayed on Divine Mercy Sunday, which would be the second Sunday after Easter. I want you to make sure that the whole world celebrates the second Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
He said, “Go to your superiors, go to your Bishop, and tell them that this is what I command.” She goes to her Bishop and she says to her Bishop, “Jesus appeared to me and He wants the second Sunday after Easter to be Mercy Sunday.” The Bishop looked at her and thought, “You are crazy. What do you mean, He appeared to you?” And he said, “We already have the second Sunday after Easter and it is all about mercy anyway. We already have that.” Faustina goes back to Jesus and says, “Jesus, I do not know what to do. The Bishop told me we already have Divine Mercy Sunday.” Jesus said to her, “Well, who knows about it?” No one, right? No one knew what Divine Mercy Sunday was. And still today a lot of people do not know what Divine Mercy Sunday is about.
Jesus then said to her, “No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My mercy. This will be the first Sunday after Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy, and on that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable mercy.” So here I am doing it. Priests telling you about His great and unfathomable mercy. I have done my job.
Jesus told St. Faustina, “Tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls who will approach the fount of mercy. On that day, all the divine floodgates through which the graces flow are open.” Today, all the divine floodgates of Heaven are opened. “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even if its sins be scarlet red.” No matter how bad we think our sins are, we should not be afraid to draw close to Jesus, especially today, on Divine Mercy Sunday.
Jesus goes on to tell her that, “I promise that the souls that venerate this image will not perish. I promise victory over its enemies already here on Earth, especially at the hour of death.” If we venerate the image, like we are doing today, we will experience victory right here on Earth. But not only on Earth, but especially at the hour of our death.
“I myself,” He says, ”will defend it as my own glory. This Feast emerges from the very depths of My mercy and it is confirmed in the vast depths of My tender mercy. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.” If you believe and you trust, you will obtain the mercy of Jesus.
The one thing He commanded to St. Faustina was that the artist put in every image, “Jesus, I trust in You.” You will see it at the bottom of every image, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
“I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. I desire that this Feast be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, especially poor sinners. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to My mercy. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to My mercy.”
Finally, He says to her, “Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. He appears to this little nun in Poland and He says, “I am giving you this message that I want to go out to the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind.” If you never heard it before, God does not want to punish us. “But I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful heart.”
If you have been away from the Eucharist, if you have been away from the Sacrament of Confession, if it has been more than a year from confession, if it has been 20 years or 30 years or 40 years, this is the time to return to Him. This is the time to experience His wonderful mercy, especially today, on Divine Mercy Sunday.
As we venerate this image and we are given this great gift of Jesus’ mercy, we can trust in Him. I just encourage you to think about that. If there is any sin in your life that you may be ashamed of, if there is any sin in your life that you have not been able to free yourself from, or be freed from, have complete trust in Jesus.
I am going to leave you with a simple acronym of how you can remember all of this. It is ABC as one scholar put it. A is ask for mercy. First of all, ask Jesus for His mercy. B, be merciful. Pope Francis says, “If we are merciful, we shall receive mercy.” And Jesus says it as well. And finally, C is third for complete trust. Have complete trust in Jesus.
So first of all, A, ask for mercy; B, be merciful; and C, completely trust in Jesus. If we do these three things, we will know not only Jesus’ mercy right here in our life, but also at the hour of our death, and ultimately, one day in eternal life.
I wish you all a wonderful Divine Mercy Sunday.