Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday: April 23, 2017 A.D.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun. She recorded the event in her diary. She writes,
“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”
Sometime later, Our Lord revealed to her the meaning of this symbol:
“The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter.”
The Divine Mercy image is intimately connected with Holy Week and Easter. Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection are the source of all grace in the Christian life. Everything comes from Holy Week. Everything leads to Holy Week.
The pale ray represents the water of baptism. This water poured out of Jesus’ heart when a Roman soldier pierced his side. This water takes people out of the darkness of original sin into the light of grace. St. Paul says to the Romans, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:3-4). Baptism changes everything. It radically transforms us, even now, if we let it. Do we trust in the grace of baptism?
The red ray represents the blood of Christ. Like the water, this blood poured out of Jesus’ heart when the Roman soldier pierced his side. This blood becomes the lifeblood of the people of the Church, who drink it every Sunday (if not every day). The blood of Christ courses through our veins, filling us with the divine life. Jesus preaches to the multitudes, “My blood is true drink” (John 6:55). St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). We have just received this gift in Communion. It has the power to radically transform us. Do we trust in the grace of the blood of Christ?
It is all about trust in God’s grace. Pope Francis says, “All is grace.” St. Ignatius says, “Find God in all things.” Everything has the possibility to become a grace for us if we trust. Trust does not mean that worldly goods will enter into our life if we merely believe. It does not mean that death or suffering will stay away. No. Trust is a simple belief that all is grace. Christ is our model. For him, even suffering, even death become graces, for he showed us his love in suffering. The greatest grace is selfless love, which often hurts. Can we let this truth into our hearts? All is grace. Are we childlike enough, humble enough to know it?
Jesus says to Saint Faustina, “Tell souls that, from the fountain of mercy, souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”
Are we humble? Do we trust in God? There is one way to know. There is a simple rule of thumb we can use at any time. When is the last time that we have seen God’s grace? If we answer “now,” then we are humble and trust in God. If anything else, then we do not.
Let me conclude with the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola:
“Take, Lord, and receive all our liberty, our memory, our understanding, and our entire will, All we have and call our own. You have given all to us. To you, Lord, we return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give us only your love and your grace, that is enough for us. Amen.”
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.