By Cliff Garvey
At the dawn of the third millennium, Pope John Paul II declared that the Second Sunday of Easter should be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Since then, God’s faithful people have rallied around the devotion to this feast, to the image of the Risen Christ who appeared in a vision to Saint Faustina, and to the chaplet that begs God’s mercy for us and for the whole world. But why? Why does this devotion call to so many people? What can we learn from it? And perhaps most importantly, how can we share its special grace with the world around us?
Pope Francis can help us better understand our longing for God’s mercy and our obligation to pass it on to our brothers and sisters in need. The Holy Father says: “Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone to the life of faith and the concrete way through which we make visible the Resurrection of Jesus (4-23-17).” In this way, mercy is not simply the forgiveness of sins and the remission of punishment. Mercy is instead basic goodness, kindness, and generosity. It is the core ingredient of the love that we give to our families and friends. It is the consideration that we show to our colleagues and neighbors. And it is the charity that we offer to the helpless, the lonely, and the poor.
Pope Francis also says: “Mercy makes us understand that violence, resentment, and revenge are meaningless; that the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments because it deprives them of their own dignity (4-23-17).” We can see the hard truth in this warning when we watch cable news or scroll through a social media feed. If we engage in bigotry, gossip, or violence, we exchange mercy for meanness. We become agents of both destruction and self-destruction. We fail as disciples to live the Gospel in all that we think, say, and do. We fail to share God’s mercy in our homes, workplaces, and communities. And we fail to build up the world around us at a time when so many seem so intent on tearing it all down.
For some of us, our fidelity to Divine Mercy may involve a daily devotion of prayer. But for all of us, our first devotion must not be to the ritual of a chaplet or to a sacred image. It should be a resolution to practice what we preach. It should be a resolution to see the Risen Christ in all people, in all situations, and in all things created by God’s compassionate love. It should be a resolution to respect all people regardless of their race, religion, or life experience. It should be a resolution to reach out to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the unwanted. It should be a resolution to rise above the dark shadows of anger, bitterness, and division that creep into our lives and our communities. It should be a resolution to love God and love others, no matter who they are, no matter where they’re from, and no matter what they’ve done in this one life on earth.
It has been more than five decades since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But this sad moment in history (on April 4, 1968) can help us now reconsider how we think about each other and how we treat each other during uncertain times. Dr. King once wrote: “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?” Now is the time to become extremists for love. Now is the time to share God’s love and mercy. And now is the time to pray: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world!” Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
About the Presenter
Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to Divine Mercy in Action. The Assisi Project Podcast is produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project: A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit and our programs and ministries for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!
Art Credit: Photo 51128663 Copyright Vividaphoto | Dreamstime.com
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (see links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
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