Theme: The Mercy Of God.
By Fr.Chidube Ubili, OP.
- Last Sunday, 12th April, we celebrated Easter Sunday to mark the Resurrection of Christ. This 19th April, the eight day of Easter, we are celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, to highlight and appreciate the Gift of the Mercy of God.
—In celebrating Easter, from Easter Sunday through the entire Easter Season, we rejoice that Christ triumphed over our greatest enemy – Death. By the resurrection of Christ, our own resurrection is assured. Death can no longer hold us hostage, because in union with the Risen Lord, we too shall conquer death.
- Still in the spirit and mood of the Easter joy, we recognize and appreciate that Christ went through His passion, death and resurrection so that we may receive the mercy of God. By Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the punishment of eternal death due for our sins was waved. So, our redemption through Christ is by the mercy of God — Divine Mercy.
- What Is “”Divine Mercy””, really? Divine Mercy, is that attribute or nature of God by which God does not treat us according to our sins; as we truly deserve. Rather, He either waves or cancels the punishment due for our sins, or reduces it drastically.
—Thus, Divine Mercy is what moves God to forgive our sins or avert a pending danger. The Psalmist had Divine Mercy in mind when he wrote: “If the Lord should keep a record of our sins, who could escape being condemned? But, you forgive us so that we should fear you…..Israel, trust in the Lord because His love is constant and in Him, there is fullness of redemption””(Cf. Ps.130: 3, 7).
- Divine Mercy, as an attributed or nature of God is not new. Rather, it has always had a great role and influence in God’s relationship with His people. This is obvious from the following illustrations:
- In Gen. 18:16-33, God was angry for the many sins of the people of Sodom and Gommorrah and threatened to destroy them. But, Abraham interceded; pleading on their behalf and God relented and forgive them. That was Divine Mercy in action…
- In Exodus 32: 1 – 14, the Israelites apostasized(abandoned faith in God) to worship and idol; a golden calf which they pressed Aaron to make for them. God was angry and threatened to destroy them. Moses, not only pleaded, but also cajoled God with the “mockery by the Egyptians” who would consider Him incapable of saving the Israelites. Again, God relented. That was Divine Mercy working.
- In Jn. 8: 1 – 11, a woman already accused, tried and condemned in Jewish Law for committing adultery was brought before Jesus. Their intention was to find out whether Jesus would affirm or contradict the Mosaic law on adultery. Jesus smartly avoided their trap, but absolved the woman, saying: “”Go and sin no more””. That was Divine Mercy at work.
- In Lk. 23: 32 – 43, a thief already judged, condemned, crucified on the Cross and abandoned to die by Jewish authorities pleaded with Jesus for eternal salvation: “”Remember me in your Paradise””. Jesus granted his humble request: “”Today, you will be with me in paradise””. That’s Divine Mercy at work…
- At the appointed time, God decided to let the world be fully aware of the “”inexhaustible fountain of His mercy””; to desire it and ask for it. Hence, in 1968, Jesus revealed the Divine Mercy Message to a young(33yr old) Polish Nun, Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, with mandate to practice and spread Devotion To Divine Mercy.
—To further enhance the promotion of the Message, Pope(St.) John Paul II instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter; hence the Divine Mercy Sunday..
- The Divine Mercy Message is simply summarised as: “”The ABC of Divine Mercy””.
—A: Ask for mercy. A great deal of God’s mercy is lying fallow; not dispensed or given out because people are not asking for it. Mercy is a special grace that we ordinarily get only when we ask for it; because it is tied to judgement and condemnation. It is the duty or obligation of the one who sinned or is in danger to ask for mercy. Jesus is ready and willing to dispense enormous grace of mercy, if only we ask.
—B: Be merciful. As we become passionate about asking for mercy, so we should be generous in being merciful; in both spiritual and corporal(bodily) terms or ways. God both expects and urges us to be “messengers of His mercy”, so that His salvation may reach the ends of the world. Our hearts should burn with intense hunger and desire to be merciful, so that we too may easily receive mercy; “”for the measure one gives is the measure one receives””(Lk.6:38).
—C: Complete trust in Divine Mercy. In all situations and circumstances, we should trust in the mercy of God. This entails that we do not rely solely on our human capacity or ability which may fail us or even become overwhelmed. Rather, we should in humility submit ourself to Divine Mercy. Hence, we would not be abandoned to suffer and fail without help; instead, the strength and courage we need shall be given us.
- This COVID-19 period demands a copious outpouring of mercy from everyone. Its like the whole world is crying out and longing for mercy. Everyone who is disposed, can be merciful; either by spiritual works, or by corporal works.
—The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Admonish the sinner, Forgive offenses willingly, Comfort the afflicted, Bear wrongs patiently and Pray for the living and the dead.
—The Corporal Works of Mercy are: Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Shelter the homeless, Cloth the naked, Visit the sick, Visit the imprisoned and Bury the dead.
- That God is ever eager; ready and willingly to dispense mercy is evident in the institution of a “special sacrament”, where He deals with matters and issues of sin, judgement, condemnation, punishment and mercy.
—He instituted the Sacrament during His apparition to the Disciples on the evening of the day of His resurrection(Cf. Jn.20:19-23).
—This Sacrament seems to be so deep and inexhaustible in its content, meaning and richness that several names are used to identify it. In fact, it is the Sacrament that has the greatest variety of names:
—Sacrament of Confession: because by it we confess our sins.
—Sacrament of Forgiveness: because by it, our sins are forgiven.
—-Sacrament of Reconciliation: because by it, we are reconciled with God and with one another.
—-Sacrament of Healing: because by it, the soul is healed of the wound of sin.
In addition to the above various effects of the Sacrament for which it is named accordingly, it also provides us with the “”Altar of Mercy”” where we humbly kneel to formally plead for and receive Divine Mercy. Hence, it is appropriate that we also recognise and appreciate it as the “”SACRAMENT OF DIVINE MERCY””..
- At no period in recent history has human life been threatened, as in this COVID-19 time. Therefore, the time is ripe for Divine Mercy to be released on the world, especially on our Country, Nigeria if only we plead passionately. Unless we are foolishly proud, we can’t afford to neglect Divine Mercy now; otherwise we perish. So, let us: Ask for Mercy, Be Merciful and Completely trust in Divine Mercy.
May God grant us more mercy than we can ever ask, through Christ, our Lord. Amen
– Apr. 20, 2020 @ 8:49 GMT |