In today’s Gospel Jesus gives His disciples His peace and sends them out into the world to proclaim His mercy. God loves us and asks us to share this love. Today is an extra special day, as not only is it a celebration of God’s Mercy or Divine Mercy Sunday, but also two great apostles of mercy Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II are to become saints.
The word for mercy is latin is MISERICORDIA. It is made up of two words: MISERI and CORDIA. Miseri stands for our misery, our weakness, our failings, our difficulties and sufferings, and Cordia signifies God’s love and mercy which transforms our Miseri. Human misery is something we don’t have to look too far to see. We see it in the newspapers each morning, in our communities, our families, our work places, and in ourselves. It is indeed something very real, not to be glossed over. BUT the good news is that God’s love and mercy is infinitely greater. In fact man’s misery is greatest where God is excluded, where His love is not to be found.
Only love will change the world. Each of us needs to be loved and to feel loved. It is a basic human requirement, and when it is missing we look in the wrong places for substitutes and get hurt. I remember hearing the testimony of a man who was in prison for 21 years for committing a murder. He spoke about how he came from a very dysfunctional and violent family. There was no love. He became a loner at school and was bullied. One day he had enough and fought back, and he noticed that other children began to fear him. He liked this attention and began to want more of it, as a way to substitute it for the love he lacked. He fought more and more and became a criminal, eventually working for the Russian Mafia stealing cars. He had 45 guys driving stealing cars and driving them across Europe for him, making him some $90,000 a week. Eventually someone threatened his position and he killed him. When he was 19 years in prison he encountered God’s mercy, and his life changed. He now helps young offenders to discover the love of God and to try and stop them going down the same road he did. Only God’s love and mercy can truly change lives.
As followers of Jesus, it is up to us to bring His love to others. Jesus told St Faustina that we can spread His mercy in three ways. Firstly we can pray for others, especially those we find hard to like. Secondly we can have charitable thoughts about others. Maybe we can think something nice about a person when we are inclined to think negatively about them. Thirdly, and most importantly we can do charitable deeds. Visit someone, or listen to someone, give of yourself to another. Remember the three ways of mercy – we can pray, have nice thoughts about others, and actually do deeds for them.
Today let us have confidence in the power of God’s mercy to transform our lives and the world. The disciples were afraid at the beginning of the Gospel, but were filled with joy and peace when they encountered Jesus, a joy and peace the world cannot give. We may sometimes doubt and fail like St Thomas, but let’s also be humble and saintly like him and admit our faults, and together with him let us say “My Lord and My God”. AMEN