The Feast of Mercy
April 10, 1994
Brother John Raymond
In 1936 Jesus explained to Blessed Mary Faustina of the Blessed
Sacrament His desire for a Feast of Mercy. He told her that He
desired the Feast of Mercy to be a refuge and shelter for all souls,
especially for sinners. On that day a person who goes to Confession
[if necessary this can be eight days before or after the Feast] and
receives Holy Communion obtains complete forgiveness of their sins
and associated temporal punishment. Today is the day Jesus picked to
celebrate the Feast of Mercy. It has become known as Mercy Sunday.
It is interesting that the Gospel reading, which was different
before Vatican II's revision of the Holy Mass, now is taken from St.
John, Chapter 20, verses 19 through 31. In this particular passage
Our Risen Lord institutes the Sacrament of Confession when He tells
the Apostles that they have the power to forgive sins.
Pope John Paul II announced Sunday morning, April 30, 2000,
during the solemn ceremony for the canonization of Maria Faustina
Kowalska that, in her honor, throughout the world, "the second
Sunday after Easter will be designated Divine Mercy Sunday,
a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence
in divine goodness, the difficulties and trials that await humankind
in the coming years."
On Mercy Sunday we should try to fulfill Our Lord's requests.
He said this
day was for all souls. We all need God's mercy. It is a gift. But we
have to fulfill certain conditions to receive it. I find it
interesting that Jesus wants this day to be a Feast. A feast implies
rejoicing. Jesus is so happy to give us His merciful love. His love
is so great that one could say it hurts Him not to be able to give
grace to us. When one thinks about it, what Jesus asks of us is so
little compared to the gift He promises to give. What Jesus has
promised to give us this day is the same as a Plenary Indulgence -
the total remission of our sins with their temporal punishment. The
Church requires more to gain a Plenary Indulgence, for example a
person must have no attachment to venial sin to gain the full
remission of temporal punishment. Jesus has put no such condition on
His mercy today.
Another important dimension of today is the gathering of the lost
sheep. Perhaps we know of someone that needs God's merciful help.
What a great joy we can give to God the Father today by bringing one
Prodigal Son back to Him. Today there are no lack of Prodigal Sons.
Our Lady has said in one of Her apparitions that our times are more
sinful than before the Flood in Noah's time. Heaven really rejoices
over the return of the sinner. We do not think enough about the
value of one soul - the devil thinks a lot about it. Each person is
destined for eternal happiness with God. Eternal happiness means for
more than a long time - it means an unending state of bliss, of a
totally fulfilling love that only God can offer.
There is another dimension to today - one of prayer. Our prayer
today should have two avenues of expression. First, we should pray
in thanksgiving for God's mercy, for the personal encounter each one
of us has had of it. The Sacrament of Confession is such a great
mercy. Jesus did not have to give us this Sacrament. He could have
required us never to sin again after Baptism to get to Heaven.
Instead Jesus wanted us to have a personal encounter of His saving
mercy through Confession. He wanted us to be assured of our
forgiveness by hearing the words "I absolve you..."
Second, our prayer today should be for all sinners. Reflect over
the value of one soul. Pray with great zeal for all sinners to
receive God's mercy this day in the Sacrament of Confession. Also
beg God to have mercy on this world immersed in sin. Prostrate
before the Divine Mercy Image or the Tabernacle in church, beg Jesus
to have mercy on us and on the whole world!