On April 30, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II celebrated Mass on the Second Sunday of Easter at St. Peter’s in Rome. That in itself was not something altogether significant, given that the Pope lives at St. Peter’s and many papal liturgies are celebrated there. But this Mass was unique. Instead of celebrating Mass inside the basilica, he celebrated it outside, in the Plaza, something that is done only for extra special occasions so as to be able to accommodate large crowds. The special occasion for this Mass was to celebrate the first canonization the New Millennium. The saint canonized on that day was a fellow Pole, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, known as the apostle of Divine Mercy. On that day, the Holy Father officially decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would be known throughout the Universal Church as Divine Mercy Sunday, per the request of Jesus Himself to St. Faustina as recorded in her Diary:
I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy (Diary, 299)…I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.(Diary, 699)
The message of Divine Mercy is extremely powerful as it reminds us of the depth of the Lord’s love for us, His children, and how He desires to free us from the burdens of our sins. I recently heard a description of God’s mercy that has really impacted me. The priest who shared it with me spoke about the experience of a child who has been injured, running to their mother or father in pain. Seeing their child suffering, the parent has only one thing in mind – attending to the wound. The parent is not trying to figure out what happened or why it happened, they just want to bring relief to their child. This is like what happens when we run to the Lord for His mercy. We run to Him in need, injured by our sins. Seeing us suffering, the Lord goes right to the pain to heal us. To strengthen this image, I recently came across these beautiful words of St. Faustina in her Diary:
When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: “You can do all things.” And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him.(Diary, 1033)
Think of this image the next time you go to confession, such as at our 2 PM Divine Mercy Service this Sunday. Bring your sins before the Lord as an injured child before their loving Father. Show Him your wounds by telling Him your sins and let Him do His work of healing. Explanations of why and how these sins came about are rarely necessary. The more we try to explain ourselves, the longer we delay His mercy from entering in to bring us His healing love!