DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY – From the Catholic Liturgy for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28, 2019. Gospel - John 20:19-31. Theme: Jesus, I Trust in You.
Today, Catholics throughout the world celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We have so many special feast days during the year but this one is most unique because it was asked for by Jesus Himself, in the 1930’s, during a series of Church-approved visions to a Polish nun whom we now honor as St. Faustina. Usually, such personal spiritual experiences do not enter into our liturgy but this one, Divine Mercy, was seriously studied and promoted by Pope St. John Paul II himself.
In addition to observing this Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus asked that a special picture be made showing Him as He was when He appeared to St. Faustina. He wanted this image displayed in parish churches as well as in our homes. He called this image a vessel of mercy and promised that many graces and blessings would come to those who honor it and live what it represents. Since Jesus himself asked that this image be spread and honored, let’s take a closer look at it.
The first interesting fact is that this image is a totally Easter-picture of Jesus, which makes a lot of sense because Divine Mercy is a totally Easter-devotion which is precisely why we celebrate it on this first Sunday after Easter. The shining glory, the posture and the body language of Jesus in this image is that of our Risen Savior as He appeared to the apostles on the first Easter night, as we heard in today’s Gospel. His right hand is raised in blessing and his left hand directs us to his heart. He looks out at us with compassion in his eyes and invites us to believe in Him, just as He asked of Thomas.
Secondly, this image has a very unique feature not found in other pictures of Jesus: from the region of His heart we see two bright rays shining forth…a reddish one and a bluish- white one. These rays of light coming from Jesus’ chest are symbols of the blood and water that gushed forth from His pierced side on Good Friday. These are the signs of the divine life of grace that comes to us through the community of the Church. So, in this image Jesus invites us to live the new life which He gave us in Baptism and to grow more deeply in our relationship with Him through the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.
Finally, we cannot overlook the words that Our Lord wanted printed on every copy of this image: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Just as an artist signs his painting, so Jesus called these words His signature. This simple little prayer which we all can easily memorize sums up the entire reason and purpose of this devotion, as well as the whole theme of the Gospels: to enter into and live a deep personal intimate relationship with Jesus and to not allow our sins and weaknesses to interfere with this relationship.
Over and over again Jesus said that no one ever needs to worry or fear when it comes to their relationship with Him. We are simply to trust in His love and realize that He did everything, even to the opening up of his heart on the Cross, out of love for each one of us personally.
He declared that our sins and our past, no matter what they were, are no obstacle to friendship with Him and that it is especially in the Sacrament of Confession that He pours out His mercy and forgiveness upon us. He said that as long as we have breath within us, we have a right to claim His mercy and no sin, no matter what it might be, is greater than his forgiving love.
So, the bottom line to this devotion, which is also the bottom line of Christianity itself, is our relationship with Jesus. It is all about love and love is rooted in trust. His love is unconditional and therefore we would be so foolish as to have any other attitude towards Jesus other than one of trust, confidence, and serenity.