One of my good priest friends, Fr. Pat Anderson, took this photo while we went on a pilgrimage to Poland a few years ago. It is a photo of train tracks that lead to a place of great devastation: Birkenau. Birkenau was the largest of the more than 40 camps that made up the Auschwitz complex. From 1941 to 1944, it functioned as prisoner of war camp, a center for extermination of the Jews, as well as a concentration camp for the German labor industry. It was a powerful place to visit and see the depths of what horrors humanity is capable of.
In this same country, 41 miles away from this place of grand devastation is a place of grand mercy. It was in Krakow in the early 1900’s that St. Maria Faustina Kowalska lived in a convent and gave her life to Jesus and his message of Divine Mercy. Throughout her life, she reported having visions of Jesus and conversations with him, which she noted in her diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. You may ask: what is the message of Divine Mercy? The Divine Mercy website from the Marian Fathers state that an easy way to call to mind the Divine Mercy Message is to remember ABC:
A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that all the graces of His mercy can only be received by our trust. The more we open the door of our hearts and lives to Him with trust, the more we can receive.
The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.
It is beautiful how God works—that right where the reality of sin, death and destruction is, God’s message of hope, forgiveness and mercy is found! This is who God is for us! This is who Jesus is for us!
In the Gospel of John for this Divine Mercy Sunday, we encounter this love and mercy. That while the disciples were locked in the Upper Room, Jesus came and stood in their midst. He could have said anything. He could have condemned them. He could have judged them. He could have rejected them for denying Him, rejecting Him, leaving Him—but he doesn’t. He says: PEACE! “Peace be with you.” This is what the Resurrection is all about. This is what mercy is all about.
Let’s enter into this message of mercy today and always. In doing so, we can receive it and offer it for others in need.
Don’t forget! Come this Sunday, April 11 @ 2:00 so that we can pray and focus our lives on the message of God’s mercy as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.
May God’s peace and joy be with you,