Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, instituted by Pope John Paul II but requested by Our Lord to Saint Faustina.  I am still parish-hopping these days, and this morning I headed to a parish about twenty minutes away.  When I walked in, I was overcome by the massive crucifix that dominated the sanctuary.  The corpus alone was probably fifteen feet tall, and it made quite an impact.  As I knelt there before Mass, I was struck by this image of Mercy on the Feast– The suffering Christ radiated such peace and power– though he was on the cross, there was no weakness– He was in control, and He was there not because He had to be, but because He chose to be there– for me.

I was struck again once Mass began, as we all stood together and prayed the Confiteor.  How many times do we recite those words by heart, not thinking of what we’re saying?  We’re standing in front of all of brothers and sisters and in front of God and telling everyone we have sinned.  Shouldn’t we be rather humiliated?  I suppose we either aren’t thinking about what we’re saying or we are “comforted” by the fact that everyone sins… ‘we’re only human’, right?  But in this day and age, when we’ve lost the concept of sin, those words should shake us.  Everyone thinks he or she is a pretty darn good person (I haven’t killed anyone.  I haven’t committed adultery.) and our consciences are dulled by lack of use, so if we thought about those words — I have sinned though my own fault…. — shouldn’t we either a) not recite them, if we don’t believe them! or b) recite them humbly, conscious of our unworthiness?  As we all traipse up the center aisle to receive the Holy of holies on our tongue, to receive the very Presence before which the Israelites veiled their faces, shouldn’t we approach the altar with fear and trembling?

God is merciful, but first we have to ask for that Mercy!  If we don’t think we need it… well, how can we accept it?

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 all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. 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.  –words of Christ to Sr Faustina (Diary 699)

In today’s Gospel, Christ allows Thomas to touch His wounds, the signs of His great love for us.  The wounds of Christ are the only man-made thing in Heaven, and they remind us of God’s mercy– not only that He desired our love so much that He chased us as we fled from Him, offering us a way back to Him again and again, finally sending us His very Son… but that after we rejected even that act of love, not accepting that ultimate Gift but killing Him, that Gift returns to us, shows us the signs of what we did to Him and allows us to come back.  Here, see what you have done– but now these wounds are not the signs of a bitter, vengeful God Who wants you to never forget what You have done… but signs of a loving, merciful God Who want you to never forget how much He loves you, how much He desires you, how much He is willing to endure for you, and how much He is willing to forgive.

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