Polish Sister St. Faustina Kowalska is depicted with an image of Jesus Christ the Divine Mercy. When St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina in 2000, he also declared that the second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., offers a reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday 2021 in which he asks faithful to reflect on showing mercy to others. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Polish Sister St. Faustina Kowalska is depicted with an image of Jesus Christ the Divine Mercy. When St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina in 2000, he also declared that the second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., offers a reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday 2021 in which he asks faithful to reflect on showing mercy to others. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Is there any more powerful expression of love on earth than showing mercy to others? Such love reflects the ultimate love shown by our Divine Lord during the days of his Passion, Death and Resurrection which we just celebrated in the Church.

Mercy is the love freely shown to us by God who first reveals himself to us and makes his presence known and felt. We do not ‘earn’ this mercy; we do not ‘deserve’ it; we do not have a ‘right’ to it. Mercy is a free gift of God that, when given, draws us into God’s very being, making God present ‘to’ us and then, ‘through’ us to others (Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., Pastoral Letter for the Year of Mercy, 2016).

For the past 21 years, Catholics throughout the world have celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday on the Second Sunday of Easter.  Originally added to the Church calendar by Pope St. John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday is based upon the private revelations of a Polish nun: Sister, now Saint, Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).

In her “Diary,” St. Faustina communicated the message she received from the Lord Jesus:

My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My mercy (“Diary,” 699).

From her childhood, St. Faustina manifested great devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the mercy of God.  Again, in her “Diary,” St. Faustina prayed, “O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life (“Diary,” 1242).”  Her prayers were answered.

The Lord Jesus spoke to her, again recorded in her “Diary”: “Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart (“Diary,” 1588). ... Know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me (“Diary,” 1693).” 
  
At her canonization ceremony on April 30, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II referred to Sister Mary Faustina in his homily as “a gift of God for our time,” quoting the Lord Jesus’ message to her, "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy.”  He continued, “Christ has taught us that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God but is also called ‘to practice mercy’ towards others: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Matthew 5: 7). ... He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.“   

The sainted Holy Father concluded his homily, encouraging the world: “Today, fixing our gaze with you (St. Faustina) on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope:  ‘Christ Jesus, I trust in you’!” 
  
As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday this year, please join me in recalling the words of Pope Francis as he inaugurated the Year of Mercy six years ago.  In Vultus Misericordiae (VM), Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy, April 11, 2015, the Holy Father wrote:

Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God (VM, 1).

Mercy reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness (VM, 2).

As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other (VM, 9).

As we continue in the Easter Season, may Mary, the Mother of Mercy, lead us to the All Merciful Heart of her Risen Son, whose Divine Mercy is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14: 6).  And let us join our prayer to that of St. Faustina: “Jesus, I trust in You.”