Home Columnists Fr Paddy: Divine Mercy – A sacred gift

Fr Paddy: Divine Mercy – A sacred gift

How can anyone argue against Divine Mercy Sunday?

Divine Mercy is hope wrapped up in a loving God, ever ready to embrace us and forgive even our gravest sins.

Believing in God, but not in Divine Mercy, would be a depressing and burdensome faith to bear.

At the core of the Gospel story of the good thief is unconditional love and compassion.

“Today, you will be with me in paradise, not, okay your sins are forgiven; now do this and this and this, and you will be saved. But today, now, you will enter into glory with me. Welcome!”

Divine Mercy is often associated with the visions and private revelations of St. Faustina. Pope John Paul II had a great devotion to this Polish nun. W

hen he declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday, many took it as a papal decree to promote the devotions described in Faustina’s “Diary,” such as venerating the Divine Mercy image and praying the Chaplet.

As Catholics, we have a soft spot for devotions and devotionals. It’s part of our hands-on, sacramental nature, but we are also a diverse bunch. What speaks to one, may not speak to another

. Devotions and belief in private revelations, even if approved and recommended by the Church, are not mandatory. Offering a special Mass that includes the Divine Mercy devotions for those who wish it is a good thing.

Presenting the devotions as an obligatory form of worship for the Second Sunday of Easter is not. Even some Divine Mercy websites are careful to stress that this Sunday is not meant to be a “party for devotees.” The focus, they say, should be on bringing “hardened sinners” back into the fold.

Perhaps we, as a Church, need to spend less time worrying about bringing back the “hardened sinners,” and more time showing mercy to those struggling to stay despite personal hurts and rejection.

We need to reach out to those who have one foot out the door, or who have already had the door closed on them.

As we meditate in gratitude for God’s gracious mercy shown to us, we should look honestly at the mercy that we show to others. Our God is a God of mercy. Are we a Church of mercy?

Mercy is who God is. It is love’s other name. Mercy is forgiveness.

God is more interested in our future than in our past. He takes past sins seriously but never as the last word.

God wants each of us to become the best person, he wills us to be and this requires conversion, a change of heart.

Genuine mercy believes God’s grace has the power to transform us. God does not owe us forgiveness.

Nor does God’s mercy licence us to continue to sin, it demands a response to go and from now on sin no more (John 8:11). God’s mercy motivates us to do better.

God’s forgiveness is an easy thing to obtain. 

One needs only to ask. God forgives, he opens his loving arms and grants mercy. He gives love away.

We do not have to feel guilty over the reality of our human frailty. God is not going to sternly judge us. No, God is running down the road toward us, eager to wrap his arms around us and kiss it better.

The enormity of God’s love, which is so vast it is beyond measure or comprehension, creates in us an awareness of the depth of our inadequacy.

But that awareness does not trigger feelings of unworthiness. Rather it creates a sense of poverty which allows us to trust fully in God and willingly accept his bountiful love.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts of the spiritual life. It enables us to be released from the sorrows of the past and reminds us to forgive others without hesitation, without question.

Without question is hard to do, which only illustrates more clearly God’s love. Forgiveness simply says that we will never put someone out of our heart.

Jesus says “Be merciful, just as the Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Pope Francis’s message for Divine Mercy Sunday, is a very practical invitation to embrace Gods powerful love for us all.

Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think, and I say it with humility, that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy. It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must!

“Oh Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!” “Why, what have you done?” “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!”

He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if you are in the same situation, let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving, never! It is we, who tire of asking his forgiveness.

Let us ask for the grace, not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.

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Fr Paddy is a curate in the hugely vibrant Portlaoise Parish. From Carlow town, he was educated in Carlow CBS and studied Business and Politics in Trinity College Dublin before training to be a priest in Carlow College. He is the youngest priest in the Kildare & Leighlin diocese and writes for a number of media outlets. He has almost 14,000 followers on Twitter.