Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35 1 John 5:1-6 John 20:19-31
On the Second Sunday of Easter of the Jubilee Year 2000, at the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, Pope John Paul II proclaimed to the world that “from now on throughout the Church, this Sunday will be called Divine Mercy Sunday.”
Divine Mercy, mercy from God, is celebrated throughout the year in various ways and especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Trusting in God’s mercy is essential for receiving the graces God wants us to have. Let me share with you a couple of examples of Divine Mercy that have been extended to others.
In an article written by the Rev. Alfred McBride, he presented these two examples. “A Time magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a black turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s attempted assassin; the other man was Pope John Paul II the intended victim. The pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet tore into the pope’s body.
In the cell, unseen in the picture, were the pope’s secretary and two security agents, along with a still photographer and videographer. John Paul wanted the scene to be shown around the world filled with nuclear arsenals and unforgiving hatreds. The Church has always used paintings, sculpture and architecture to communicate spiritual meanings. This scene between John Paul and Mehmet was a living icon of mercy.
The Church was celebrating the 1,950th anniversary of Christ’s death and Christian redemption. The pope had been preaching forgiveness and reconciliation constantly. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their twenty minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly.
When the pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s divine mercy, the same divine mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.
Another powerful example of Divine Mercy occurred on October 6, 2006. An armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania where he killed five little girls and wounded five others before killing himself. After the police left, families carried their children home and mourned them.
After a while they walked to the home of the man who killed their children, not with hate and vengeance but with compassion. They told the widow they forgave her husband for what he had done and they consoled her for the loss of her husband.
Amish Christians teach us that forgiveness is central. They believe in a real sense that God’s forgiveness depends on their extending forgiveness to other people as often as needed. That’s what the mercy of God is all about. That mercy is why we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.”
As we go about our daily lives both at home and here at St.Mary’s and d’Youville, let us pray for the grace needed to reach out to one another in the spirit of forgiveness and show mercy as often as is needed.
May God bless us all!