The third definition of the word mercy, found at dictionary.com reads, “(especially of a journey or mission) performed out of a desire to relieve suffering; motivated by compassion.”
This upcoming weekend is one of my absolute favorite liturgical celebrations, having become known as Divine Mercy Sunday in 2000 by St. Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska. Divine Mercy Sunday is always the first Sunday after Easter, and highlights and emphasizes the never ending, limitless, vast ocean of mercy Christ holds for His believers – if they would just turn to Him and accept His mercy.
Yet, everywhere we turn in our society, we are inundated with messages of blame, anger, retribution, and revenge. If someone makes us angry, we are encouraged to get even with them, rather than “turn the other cheek.” If someone hurts us, we are quick to retaliate without a thought of the consequences.
The forty days of Lent, especially Holy Week, focus on the sufferings of Christ. If you’ve ever attended a Stations of the Cross devotion (typically held at churches on Fridays during Lent), you will be reminded in a very intimate manner the way our every day actions caused Christ pain so many centuries ago. Contemplating the suffering of Christ is never easy – and, even more difficult is contemplating the actions, or inactions, of ourselves which contributed to His suffering.
And, in the end, Divine Mercy offers us something that is radically different than the status quo. The message of Divine Mercy reminds us of Christ’s suffering, but rather than dwelling on the pain, we are reminded to focus on the love He holds for each of us.
Going back to the opening definition of mercy, Christ displayed mercy for each of us, as He silently bore the whips, the thorns, the burden of the Cross. He knew that we needed not just “any” Savior; rather, He knew we needed Him. Motivated by compassion for each and every single one of us, what He endured during Holy Week was undertaken out of a desire to relieve our suffering.
Through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Christ purchased our salvation. And, our culture would have us believe lies that we are not capable of salvation, we are not in need of salvation, and ultimately, we are not worthy of salvation.
Those are straight-up lies.
Our salvation was purchased for us on the back of Christ’s suffering. But, it was also purchased on the back of Christ’s Resurrection.
We have a debt we can never fully repay.
However, the message of Divine Mercy addresses that: We seek to repay the debt simply by turning back to Christ. Knowing we are fallible but trusting in Christ’s mercy is repayment enough. By acknowledging, through our action and inaction in this life, that we are sinners, much of our repayment has been completed. From there, we are asked to seek forgiveness, “for all that I have done, and all that I have failed to do.”
As we seek God’s mercy, we will be changed. Our hearts will be forever changed.
We will stop living a life based on the lies that power, wealth, popularity, and admiration are the key to success.
We will stop living a life centered on the lies that we are not capable, not in need of, and not worthy of salvation.
Turning to God and seeking His mercy will see us transformed.
We will begin to recognize His hand in our daily living.
We will begin to understand the beauty Christ found in each of us, as He hung on the Cross.
We will begin to find our individual worth, that God sees in us every morning we wake.
Christ offers us an endless ocean of mercy, with just a simple request that we take Him up on the offer.
So, as we prepare to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, I encourage each of us to ponder how Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection impacts us centuries later. Have we bought into the lies that we are unworthy of His sacrifice?
Because, dear reader, at the end of the day, I’m here to remind each of you reading these words: Christ found you beautiful. He found you important. He found you worthy.
Christ finds you beautiful.
Christ finds you important.
Christ finds you worthy.
If you don’t trust anything else in this world, trust His judgment – He finds you worthy of His sacrifice.
And, all He asks in return is that you turn to Him, lean into Him, and respond with the words at the bottom of the Divine Mercy image:
Jesus, I trust in You.
Copyright 2019 AnnAliese Harry