YEAR OF MERCY
The Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.
Helena Kowalska, the third of ten children, was born on August 25, 1905 in Poland, of a poor and religious family of peasants. At the age of 16, she left home, going to work as a housekeeper in order to support herself and help her parents. Helena believed she was called to religious life during a vision of the Suffering Christ and on August 1, 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary Faustina. She was in the congregation for 13 years, living in several religious houses and working as a cook, gardener and porter. She contracted Tuberculosis which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners and at the age of just 33, on October 5, 1938, with a reputation of spiritual maturity, and a mystical union with God, Sister Mary Faustina died in Krakow.
Sister Mary Faustina was beatified April 18, 1993 by Pope John II.
Sister Mary Faustina wrote prolifically in a diary and in that diary she expressed the belief that Jesus wanted us to celebrate Him under the title of “Divine Mercy” and to do so on this particular Sunday.
The well known picture that we associate with Sister Mary Faustina came to her in a vision and is said to have been directed by Jesus Himself. Our Gospel for this Sunday follows the story of Mary of Magdala discovering the empty tomb. Though she did not recognize Him, Jesus sent her to tell the disciples that He had risen. This modest missionary journey was not embraced by the disciples, at least not until Jesus appeared in their midst and proved to be as He had claimed.
At the foot of the cross, Jesus gave Mary and John to each other. This is not a story of a dying man taking care of his mother, it’s a story of Jesus creating the Church. We are given to each other to care of each other, and at His death, Jesus “hands over” the Spirit to make this unity possible.
Jesus knew that the heart is fragile and that it fails in His call to love one another. As Jesus enters the locked room He gives peace, “shalom”. This peace is not freedom from upsetting things in our lives, this peace is the sense of well-being that comes from the belief that God is with us. This peace enable us to live with upsetting things, and in the case of the disciples, it gives them the ability to live with persecution.
The disciples were given this mission to carry on this unifying journey, and thus it is our mission as well. We don’t often give people who hurt us second chances, but Jesus gives us all the chances we need to fully trust Him – and this forgiveness is Divine Mercy.
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