“Jesus, I trust in you.”
In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized the first saint of the new millennium, St. Faustina Kowalska, the apostle of the Divine Mercy devotion. The canonization took place on the Second Sunday of Easter and after the ceremony the Holy Father indicated that henceforth the last day of the Octave of Easter would be designated Divine Mercy Sunday. This designation is, as the official decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship said, “…a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come”.
Sister Faustina was a simple nun in Poland. During the first half of the 20th century, she had a series of mystical experiences in which she receive a number of revelations which have given rise to this ever increasing popular devotion. In her Diary, she writes how she heard Jesus bid her to "…tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy…Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.... Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy". (Diary 699)
The liturgical texts of this day are perfectly suited to this end. The gospel tells us of the Risen Lord’s appearance to his apostles who because of their fears had hidden behind the locked doors of that Upper Room where they had shared in his Last Supper. Jesus’ Easter gift to his frightened apostles was “peace” – and, then, he empower them to be peace makers themselves by giving them the authority to forgive all repented sin.
“Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them”. Jesus show his power over sin and death not only when on Easter Sunday he rose from the tomb, he also shows his power by raising us up from the death of sin through the Sacrament of Penance, the tribunal of his Divine Mercy.
The feast of Divine Mercy – and the popular devotion of the chaplet associated with it – help us to delve more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of our Lord’s Death and Resurrection and highlights the primacy of grace in the history of our salvation. Salvation is not something we “earn”, it is entirely a gift, a gift given because of God’s unfathomable love. As the image of the Divine Mercy painted according to St. Faustina’s instructions reminds us, God’s mercy is more than an abstract idea. God’s mercy has a name; God’s mercy has a face: the name and face is that of Jesus Christ who loved us “to the end”. Even in its resurrected state, the Son of God’s human body still bears the scars of his passion and death as a witness to the breath and depth of his love for us.
No sin, no offense, no act of depravity is beyond the power of his love, his mercy. Jezu, ufam tobie, Jesus, I trust in you. With that trust, we seek that mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, Jesus’ Easter gift to his Church. His mercy restores us to life freeing us from the tomb of our self pity and self hatred, our resentments and our grudges. “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”