Mother of Divine Mercy
The Church today rejoices with Divine Mercy Sunday, always observed on the Octave of Easter. Instituted by Saint John Paul II in 2000, this feast of the Lord’s never-ending compassionate love offers “a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God’s eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy” (Homily of April 30, 2000).
Tomorrow, we will rejoice in those words spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary that were to change the course of history, as we observe the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This day which commemorates the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the Mother of God, her acceptance of God’s plan in humility, and the glorious Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.
Normally celebrated on March 25 – exactly nine months before the Nativity of the Lord on December 25 – the feast of the Annunciation has been transferred this year because March 25 fell on Palm Sunday. Yet, by this circumstance, we now have a wonderful cluster of celebrations, providing a beautiful opportunity for meditation together on the workings of Divine Mercy, God’s providence, grace and our response to it all throughout the history of faith and in our own personal history.
Mary is the perfect example for our reflections on our practicing and living mercy. Named in the ancient Marian antiphon Salve Regina, the Church praises her as our “Mater Misericordiæ,” our Mother of Mercy. At the Annunciation, her fiat – her “yes” to God – displayed her magnanimity and her great openness to mercy. In agreeing to be the Mother of Jesus, to be the means in which Christ came into the world for the forgiveness of our sins, Mary has mercy then on all of humanity. By bringing into the world Jesus Christ, who is Divine Mercy in person, she actually becomes the Mother of Mercy.
Saint John Paul again helps us link Divine Mercy and Mary. In Veritatis Splendor, published 25 years ago this year, the pope calls her a “radiant sign and inviting model of the moral life” (120). Then again at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus gives his mother to all humanity, “Mary becomes Mother of each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy” (Id.).
As we praise God whose mercy endures forever, and give thanks too for our Blessed Mother and remember her great part in divine mercy, we can also take her words as our own. Imitating her own maternal mercy, we may bless history as well: “May it be done to me according to your word.”