…..from your Pastors Desk
His Mercy Endures
Since the early years of his priesthood, Saint John Paul II had a deep devotion to the Divine Mercy. In the year 2000 he officially established the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. On that same date he canonized a humble polish nun named
Faustina Kowalska. St. Faustina received revelations from Jesus that became the basis for the Divine Mercy devotion. In spite of a somewhat rocky beginning, the devotion spread first in Poland, then throughout the entire world. After Pope John Paul canonized Sister
Faustina, he said, “This is the happiest day of my life!” Devotion to the Divine Mercy, of course, was not a novelty.
Our Psalm today say, “His mercy endures forever.” St. Peter reminds us that we received a new birth because of God’s “great mercy.” And in today’s Gospel the Risen Jesus gives mercy as his first gift: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…” Divine Mercy summarizes the message of the Bible and gift of our Savior.
So the devotion to Divine Mercy goes back to our origins. Nevertheless, Jesus chose St. Faustina to highlight and renew this devotion at a crucial moment – at a time when many people had lost faith not just in God, but in mercy itself.
In the nineteen forties humanity, to that point, experienced its most horrendous war. Like all wars, it took the lives of young soldiers, but it had another dimension. On a scale never before seen, civilians became targets: children, their mothers, the disabled, and the elderly. People asked: How could humans commit such atrocities? And: Where is God in all this? As Pope Benedict observed, people saw “the horrors of human history, especially of the most recent human history, as an irrefutable pretext for denying the existence of a good God and slandering his creature man.”
Someone who particularly witnessed the horrors of recent human history was the man recently canonized – John Paul II. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he was in Warsaw’s underground seminary. In the terror which the Nazis imposed, he saw fellow
seminarians and priests arrested and summarily executed. After the war, Nazism was replaced by its twin evil – communist totalitarianism. The Nazi occupation lasted five years, but the communist oppression of Poland would last fifty years.
Many historians are recognizing the significant role St. John Paul II played in the downfall of European communism. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, some of the secret archives became public. They reveal an obsession against the Catholic Church – and
particularly against the Polish pope.
This Sunday we see his greatest weapon. It was not condemnation; it was not political intrigue and it surely was not economic power. The pope’s great weapon was the Divine Mercy.
Against a materialist philosophy that viewed humans in terms of economics, St. John Paul II presented a different vision. Yes, we are deeply flawed. Yes, we committed unimaginable crimes against each other. But we are not abandoned. God offers us something infinitely greater than our human cruelty.
My friends, sometimes it seems like we are up against insurmountable obstacles. But remember that in the mid- nineteen eighties, many political experts scoffed at the idea that the Soviet empire would give way. St. John Paul II saw something deeper – the Divine
Mercy at work in human history -and in your life and mine.
This Sunday let’s ask the intercession of St. John Paul II that we would know deeply what we heard in the Psalm: “His mercy endures.” Amen. St. John Paul II – Pray for us!