There’s a subtle temptation to miss Christ’s message in Divine Mercy Sunday. With the ocean of graces released yesterday—“On that day,” Jesus revealed to St. Faustina, “all the divine floodgates through graces flow are opened”—it’s easy to focus on what we’ve received and forget the missive that comes bound up in the feast.
Yet Christ was abundantly clear with St. Faustina that a devotion to His Divine Mercy requires that the recipient practice mercy himself. Jesus says strongly:
“Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy … I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.” (Diary of St. Faustina, para.742)
So, what are acts of mercy? To review, the corporal works of mercy are: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, comforting the prisoners, visiting the sick, and burying the dead. The spiritual works are: teaching the ignorant, praying for the living and dead, correcting sinners, counseling those in doubt, consoling the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, and forgiving wrongs willingly. In the Diary Jesus tells St. Faustina that mercy should be performed first in deed, then in word, and finally in prayer. (para.742)
The catechism is also helpful in summing up mercy:
“In its various forms—material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death—human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren.” (para. 2448)
Just like Jesus in mercy took upon Himself the suffering of us, so, too, must we. Blessed Mother Teresa said, “He makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the sick one, the one in prison, the lonely one, the unwanted one, and He says, ‘You did it to Me.’ He is hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find. It may be in our own home.” (Where There is Love, There is God, p. 175)
So let’s indeed rejoice at the great graces that Our Lord’s given us in that beautiful feast of mercy yesterday, and then let’s hasten like Mary to bring that joy of His loving mercy to others today. To relieve their suffering. To relieve Jesus’s suffering. And, in discovering and caring for Jesus in those around us, relieving even our own suffering.
To think about: who in my life is suffering today and what can I do for them?