Published on:

19th Apr 2020

What is Divine Mercy? (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Why Divine Mercy Sunday? It was only instituted 20 years ago. But the Octave of Easter, of which this day is the last, has been around for 16 centuries. Surely the 1600-year-old eighth day of the Resurrection of the Co-eternal Son of God outweighs just a little a 20-year devotional day started by a Polish nun?

And yet to deny place to the Divine Mercy is to deny the whole point of Holy Week and the Resurrection. The Mercy of God is the undercurrent to both the agonising tensions and the eruption of unlooked-for joy of all of Easter.

And this is why amongst our joy we should not be too fast to remove a kernel of wonder at the suffering of Christ. As we saw on Palm Sunday: Almighty God let people rip out his beard by the roots. He stood patiently as they shucked gobs of their spit onto his forehead, cheeks, eyes and mouth. He stayed patiently silent as his body bucked and warped as they raked the flesh out of his back. All for love. This is not a time when we can ask does God love me. My friends, just look and think. The way Jesus patiently suffered these things, and suffers our own sins, using the very being he has given us against him, is part of this mercy.

Part of this mercy is also what Jesus shows us on the cross. Even though he is dead, and he continued loving us up till even death, even that was not strong enough message for us. He allowed his heart to pierced and opened. His mercy and forgiveness, the openness of his heart for us is thus beyond death, beyond even the worst evil - for this pierced and opened heart is pierced and open still, beating in the Risen Jesus for all the rest of eternity. It is no suprise our psalm today cannot hold back but has to keep saying: Let the sons of Israel say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let the sons of Aaron say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let those who fear the Lord say: ‘His love has no end.’

This mercy also is found in the first words of the Risen Jesus to the apostles. You would think anyone’s first words are important. Infinitely moreseo those of the co-eternal Son of the Eternal Father back from the dead. And so what does Jesus choose to say? ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ He chooses to institute the Sacrament of Confession. This is what our brothers during the Council of Trent remind us: For Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of penance for those who fall into sin after baptism, when he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” Clearly in Jesus’ eyes, access to his mercy, forgiveness and love at the heart of his whole earthly mission: to bring every man and woman the irreversible forgiveness and love of God’s heart into their life.

Of course, we are not allowed to go to our church and receive forgiveness at the moment. This means now is a good opportunity to savor what we have had in the easy availability of the sacrament of confession. But don’t be afraid: all you need is to make a call, and your priests will come to your home and hear you and give you a share of God’s infinite mercy. Thank God for Divine Mercy.

Let us pray:

God of everlasting mercy,

who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast

kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,

increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,

that all may grasp and rightly understand

in what font they have been washed,

by whose Spirit they have been reborn,

by whose Blood they have been redeemed.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Show artwork for The Furnace

About the Podcast

The Furnace
The Furnace is a free brief daily homily podcast by a priest of the Emmanuel Community for the Archdiocese of Sydney. The aim of the podcast is to proclaim the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the "glowing furnace of love" (St Gertrude the Great).
Why The Furnace? Quite simply because most people in Australia, and the
world, can no longer get to Mass, or even into a church. The point of these
podcasts is to bring people a share of the Mass in the Word of God and prayer.
But why the name? Because the Heart of Jesus is a “Furnace of love”. This
is how St Gertrude the Great describes it. As she prays:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
fountain of eternal life,
Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love.
You are my refuge and my sanctuary.
O my adorable and loving Saviour,
consume my heart with the burning fire
with which Yours is aflamed.
Pour down on my soul those graces
which flow from Your love.
Let my heart be united with Yours.
Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things.
May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions.

The point of these homilies is first of all to share this with everyone - to
share the love of God’s heart with every human heart. There is nothing original
about that. This is, basically, all priests are ever trying to do. And it’s the only
real point of the Catholic Church: invented by Christ to share Christ, starting
from his pierced heart on the cross on Good Friday. It’s only fitting that at this
time each of us are being refitted with slightly larger crosses that our creator
comes to meet us from the cross with his own heart pierced and broken.

There is so much I could say about the Heart of Jesus - but I would have
to go on forever, because his Heart is infinite. So I’ll finish with the invitation of
another of the great saints of the Sacred Heart, St Claude la Colombiere:
May the Heart of Jesus Christ be our school! Let us make our abode there . . .

Let us study its movements and attempt to conform ours to them.
My friends, lets enter Jesus’ heart together.

It’s not just me recording it, or just you listening to a recording.

I rely on your prayers, and as I write and talk I am praying for each of you. And
in any case, there is no such thing as a Christian doing something by themselves:
like the Trinity, where one is, the others are. So let’s enter together, for Jesus is
standing in front of us now, with his heart wide open, to enter and experience
his love, his healing, his teaching, authentic freedom - and eternal life with him.