Divine Mercy Sunday
Jesus Christ comes to us by water, blood, and the Spirit of Truth
Easter is about empowerment. In the Gospel (readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040818.cfm) we hear that initially the disciples hid from the Jews out of fear. So how did these people become those Apostles who testified to the Resurrection with great power?
Perhaps we should say Easter is 1st about transformation, then empowerment. St John describes this transformation as overcoming the world by faith. And although we don’t have the luxury of Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ, Christian initiation has three elements that similarly transform us, empowering us to testify to the Resurrection.
The blood and water St John refers to are ancient symbols of baptism and Eucharist. Through baptism our sins are washed away by the cleansing waters of rebirth. The blood represents the Eucharistic Sacrifice that is now bloodless, and which is the life of souls. And last, we receive the Spirit of Truth in confirmation that testifies to the Truth.
There is an infinite abyss between the All Holy God and us mere creatures; wounded and broken sinners. Divine Mercy refers to God overlooking this abyss – our unworthiness of his love – and yet calling us to share in his life at the cost of his own Sons’ life. What God has done is unfathomable. Now God imparts that new Life of Easter to the Church through the sacraments.
Yes, the disciples were the first to be renewed by the experience of God’s forgiveness streaming from the Cross; of the Lords’ peace; of the Spirit at Pentecost. We just experience that differently. We experience forgiveness through baptism and confession. We are transformed by the reception of the Eucharist. And we are empowered by having the fire of God’s love sealed within our heart at Confirmation.
Sacraments transform us, empower us. Through them we encounter the Risen Lord. Through them we continue to experience and be transformed by the God of mercy as we struggle daily to grow into the big shoes God has for us. We are unworthy of such Love, but that is precisely why God’s mercy and goodness is unfathomable. Jesus doesn’t weigh up our worthiness but simply gives to those willing to receive.
Today is the feast of Divine Mercy, let us who receive the sacraments, once again confidently approach the Father of mercies with unshakeable faith. Let us once again ask that our inner transformation and peace with God be deepened that we may be ever more empowered to testify to the Resurrection, to preach the Gospel and to be more like his Son, Christ our Lord. Amen.
Image: Original painting of the Divine Mercy (by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in 1934) with English version of inscription. This is this image which was done with Sister Faustina's instructions and before her death in 1938, unlike the most known version by Adolf Hyła painted in 1943.