On this day, the Second Sunday of Easter, we keep the feast of Divine Mercy. During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as given to us by Pope Francis, today’s feast of mercy comes with great opportunity to both celebrate and receive the mercy of God in the midst of this holy year. Yet, today’s feast is not well
understood or as well emphasized as it could be – likely because the designation of this day by the name “Divine Mercy Sunday” only began in 2000. Thus, today I would like both to explore the reality of this day of mercy, and to share with you some reflections on how to both receive and trust in His mercy as we continue to rejoice and celebrate the Year of Mercy.
Regarding today’s feast day, recall the story of St. Faustina Kowalska (who lived in the first half of the 20th century in Poland.) Of great significance in her life were the messages that she was given by Jesus himself and in particular, the messages to make known His mercy. Among the instructions that Our Lord gave to
St. Faustina were the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and His directive that the Church should keep this Second Sunday of Easter as a feast of mercy. In keeping this feast, people ought to prepare themselves for a greater outpouring of God’s mercy through making use of the sacrament of Penance in the days before the feast, and should practice works of mercy. In addition, this feast should be marked by times of prayer, particularly in the presence of the “Divine Mercy Image” which Jesus
instructed Faustina to paint according to the pattern that she was shown – as many souls would be brought to Him through it.
Given this overarching history of the Feast of Divine Mercy, coupled with our ongoing Year of Mercy, I want to encourage all to take advantage of the celebration of this feast that takes place this Sunday afternoon at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary from 1:30—3:00 pm. Included in the celebration will be opportunities to pass through the Holy Door, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, to receive the sacrament of Penance, and to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In addition, this
celebration will have the special blessing of the presence of a relic of St. Faustina, available for veneration. This celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday will rightly
incorporate both the means to receive mercy – especially through confession – along with ways of prayer that help us to grow in deeper trust in His mercy. The praying of the chaplet, the adoration of the Eucharist, and the special opportunity afforded by the pilgrimage through the Holy Door as ways to pray for and encounter mercy each have the capacity to open us to a deeper living of mercy; that we might receive the mercy so as to then bring that mercy to all we meet.
As we celebrate mercy today and through the rest of this holy year, I give one key reason we should take this opportunity seriously: to grow in trust of God. Mindful that the image which St. Faustina was asked to have painted is signed with the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” today’s feast is especially about growing in trust in God and His merciful love – learning to trust God as He really is. Such trusting in God is truly at the heart of faith. (To be plain – it is one thing to say we trust God, still holding to our expectations of what we think God should do; it is quite another to surrender to God’s will, allowing Him to work in us, through us, and for us, especially when there seems to be little for which to hope.) It is my prayer that on this day and through the remainder of this Year of Mercy, all of us will open ourselves to mercy, growing in true trust in God, trusting God fully and sincerely – that His will may be done in each one of us. Likewise, I pray that we will grow in our capacity to be merciful, expressed in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, that many more may know God’s merciful love, professing those beautiful words: “Jesus, I trust in you.”