Dear Friends in Christ:
Quí Ông Bà và Anh Chị Em thân mến trong Chúa Kitô:
Estimados Amigos y Amigas en Cristo:
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter (not the first Sunday after Easter since Easter Sunday was the first Sunday of Easter). The feast of Easter is so important that we celebrate Easter for 50 days, concluding with Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples.
Today is known also as Divine Mercy Sunday. When St. Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina on April 30, 2000, he declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be called Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the Church. The concept of divine mercy is not new. The scriptures are filled with the importance of God’s divine mercy. What is “new” is that we have dedicated one Sunday to emphasize the truth of God’s infinite mercy and the forgiveness of sins.
The reality is that we have such a difficult time believing in a loving, forgiving and merciful God. Maybe it is the effects of sin and hurt that we struggle with, knowing we hurt God and others by our sinful actions. Maybe it is our experience that others do not forgive us all the time, and we do not forgive ourselves or others that we struggle to believe that God is willing to forgive us.
The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves all of us, no exceptions! 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. The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering 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 & 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. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska (born 1905, died 1938 at age 33) was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s. She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I. She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus, specifically about His divine mercy. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks in some 600 pages, known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. The words contained within are God's loving message of Divine Mercy.
Throughout salvation history, God uses the ‘simple or lowly’ people as His messengers. Yet how many of us think we are too insignificant that God would use us? For such an “uneducated” person, Sr. Faustina wrote some 600 pages on God’s Divine Mercy! Sr. Faustina in her prayers came to understand that a prayer of mercy was to be prayed. That developed into what is now called the Divine Mercy Chaplet, using rosary beads. If you desire to learn how to pray such a chaplet, refer to p. 12 for directions to do so.
Granted, most of us will not influence the world like Sr. Faustina, but we can influence others around us, especially IF we are willing to extend mercy and forgiveness to others. Most people are comforted by the commandment to love as Jesus loves us, though it is a challenge to love all (Jn. 13: 34), But we struggle more with forgiving others. Forgiveness is a necessary reality to love. “Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times’” (Mt. 18: 21-22). This means there is no limit to forgiveness. Remember the words of the Our Father: “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Let us pray for peace and healing in our world, nation and families. Pray for wisdom for our leaders!