(John 20:19-31) In the eyes of the world, the concept of sin is considered passé. There is no denying it. Many people today don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of any kind of absolute right or wrong. Instead, they talk about ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth.’ “Everything is relative,” they claim. “It all depends on your point of view.” But there is a perspective that transcends all others: God’s point of view.
Just because talking about ‘God’s truth’ is not popular in some circles doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as sin. As Catholics, we believe that there is objective right and wrong and that we have been created with the capacity to know it. When we do wrong, we offend God – and we call that wrong ‘sin’. No advances in science and medicine will ever change the fact that sin is – and always will be – beyond human remedy. Otherwise, why would Jesus have given the disciples the power to forgive sin in today’s Gospel? (Jn 20:23) Let’s face it; ignoring sin won’t make it go away. There is only one thing you can do to be free of it: call on Divine Mercy.
Divine Mercy is a mystery that defies human understanding. Without a sense of sin – an understanding of how serious sin is and the extent to which we have offended and hurt God – we can’t even begin to comprehend the depths of God’s mercy. Without an appreciation for the gravity of our offenses, we cannot begin to fathom how unconditionally God loves us. How can we, who struggle to forgive those we love, understand the kind of love that would impel Jesus to choose to die for us – especially when we are the ones whose sins have nailed Him to the Cross? How can we, who bitterly hang on to the real and imagined hurts that we have suffered at the hands of others, understand Christ’s desire to shower us with mercy – even before we have asked His forgiveness? Though the infinite nature of God’s love far surpasses every kind of human love imaginable, it is only by trusting in His love and His mercy that we can hope in Salvation.
Devotion to Divine Mercy asks three things of us. First, we are invited to ask for God’s 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.”1
Second, God asks us to trust completely in Christ’s abundant mercy. In an appearance to St. Faustina, He said, “I perform works of mercy in every soul. The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.”2 No sin is too great to be forgiven; nothing is beyond God’s love and mercy provided we repent sincerely.3 “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”4 The more that we trust in Jesus, the more mercy we will receive. “Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more than they ask.”5
Third, we are to extend love and forgiveness to others, just as God does to us; we are to be a channel of His mercy to those around us. We do this through our actions, our words, and our prayers. “Mercy is love that seeks to relieve the misery of others. It is an active love, poured out upon others to heal, to comfort, to console, to forgive, to remove pain. It is the love that God offers us, and it is the love He demands from us for each other.”6 On this special Feast of Divine Mercy and in each day to come, may we draw closer to our Lord, relying on His mercy and trusting in His forgiveness as we bring the message of His great mercy and love to everyone we meet.
– Sharon van der Sloot
“[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.” St. Faustina
1 Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC and Vinny Flynn, The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion (Stockbridge, MA: Association of Marian Helpers, 1991), 23.
2 Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, 3rd ed. (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2007), 723.
3 CCC, 982.
4 Diary of St. Faustina, 699.
5 Ibid., 1146.
6 Michalenko and Flynn, The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion, 25.