(John 20:19-31) Each year, we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter. It is a day to reflect on the incredible love and mercy of God. Established by Pope John Paul II in response to revelations received by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, he canonized this humble, Polish nun on the same day he inaugurated this feast in 2000. It is therefore especially fitting that he, along with Pope John XXIII, be canonized in Rome on this day.1
At Easter, we celebrate God’s love, a love so great that He died for us in order to bring about our Salvation. In rising from the dead, Jesus overcame the power of death, giving each of us the hope of eternal life. In the Gospel of John, we read how Jesus appeared to His disciples that first night. He breathed the Holy Spirit on them, and He gave them the power to act in His name – to be ministers of His love and mercy. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” He said. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:22-23). With these words, Jesus revealed the face of God in one of His most breathtaking attributes: His Divine Mercy. Although the price of sin is death, He doesn’t want any one of us to be lost.
God loves each one of us so much that He would never turn a repentant sinner away. His mercy is so infinite that there is no sin so great that it cannot be forgiven. But it isn’t always easy for us to trust. Like Thomas, we may doubt God. We may put off going to Confession, ashamed of our sins because we don’t really understand what it means to be loved by God. We may think our sins are so terrible that if we admit to them, God will turn His back on us. But there’s nothing we can tell God that He doesn’t already know. After all, He’s always right beside us, always watching over us. He’s seen it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And He loves us anyway.
There is nothing that would shock God or cause Him to reject us. He has only one desire: that we should all repent and turn away from our sins so that He can welcome us back with open arms. Pope Francis once observed, “God never ever tires of forgiving us! … The problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness.”2
In a vision, Jesus told St. Maria Faustina, “Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me – clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.”3 Don’t be afraid to turn to our Lord to ask for forgiveness! God’s mercy has no bounds. It is limited only by our openness to receive it.
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 This will be the first double canonization in the history of the Church. The day also has a special significance as Blessed John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.
2 Pope Francis, Angelus March 17, 2013; available from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2013/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20130317.html; Internet; accessed 16 April 2014.
3 St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, trans. Fr. Richard J. Drabik, M.I.C., 3rd ed. (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2007), #50.