The Divine Mercy of the Lord
The mercy of the Lord “lasts forever. From generation to generation, it embraces all those who trust in him and it changes them, by bestowing a share in his very life,” affirms Pope Francis (Misericordia et Misera, 2). This divine mercy expresses itself in the life of the Church in a variety of ways – in the sacraments, in our Christian witness, in our works of charity, and in our prayer.
In a particular way, the compassionate love of God is praised and kept in our hearts in the various forms of spiritual devotion to divine mercy. These include Divine Mercy Sunday, which we celebrate today on the Octave of Easter, the Chaplet and Novena to Divine Mercy, special prayers at three in the afternoon, which is the Hour of Great Mercy when Jesus died on the Cross in love for us, and the Image of Divine Mercy.
Jesus, with his arms outstretched on the Cross, is the incarnation of mercy. Saint John tells us in his Gospel that after the Lord breathed his last and handed over his Spirit, to make sure he was dead, one of the Roman soldiers “thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:33).
The blood and water pouring forth from the depths of the sacred heart and pierced side of Christ can be understood as being a fountain of mercy and it is captured in a special way in the Image of Divine Mercy, according to a vision of Saint Faustina Kowalska. This famous image depicts two rays of light in red and white, representing blood and water, streaming from the heart of the Lord, together with the words “Jesus, I trust in You,” and it was explained by Saint Pope John Paul II this way, citing the diary of Saint Faustina: “The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha and the mystery of the Eucharist; the water, according to the rich symbolism of the Evangelist John, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:5; 4:14). Through the mystery of this wounded heart, the restorative tide of God’s merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time” (Homily of April 22, 2001).
Every time we look upon the Image of Divine Mercy or a crucifix, every time we pray for souls saying the words of the Chaplet, “For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world,” we are reminded that we can trust in the Lord’s love and grace at work in our lives. We can trust in Jesus in our daily lives and we should do so in prayerful vigil particularly at the end of life.
By these devotions of Divine Mercy, we are drawn deeper into the experience of God’s rich and enduring compassion. He has sent us his only begotten Son from whose side pours forth a fountain of loving mercy, a “wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace,” that redeems and renews (Misericordiae Vultus, 2). How blessed we are to be so loved by the Lord.