Divine Mercy Sunday: Jesus I Trust in You!
Easter is the fulfillment of God’s mercy for all of humanity. We no longer have to remain trapped in our sins and afraid of death. We can turn to Jesus to receive the gift of his mercy and look to the future with hope. Beginning with Easter Sunday and continuing for eight days, the church enters into the Octave of Easter. This means that Easter is celebrated every day through Divine Mercy Sunday. The rest of the Easter Season follows through Pentecost Sunday.
In the jubilee year 2000, St. John Paul II formally revised the name of the Second Sunday of Easter to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. He made this proclamation on the occasion of the canonization of St. Faustina, a Polish religious sister who shared the message of Divine Mercy. The change of the name to Divine Mercy Sunday was in accord with the entire point of Easter: the Mercy of Jesus is poured out for us. None of the Mass prayers or readings were changed. These prayers and readings already reflected the Mercy of Jesus.
This Sunday, in the first letter of St. Peter, we read of the primacy of mercy that leads to inexpressible joy: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. … you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)
Following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles who were behind locked doors. The first message of Jesus on that occasion was to entrust them to continue his mission of mercy. He imparted to them the power to forgive sins in his name, which has continued to this day in the sacrament of reconciliation: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (John 20:19-31)
In changing the name to Divine Mercy Sunday, St. John Paul II focused our attention to the triumph of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus: he pours out his mercy on all of humanity. The name change also resulted in even more attention being focused on the other devotions that have become identified with Divine Mercy. Among these elements identified with the devotion is the praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a simple prayer that can be prayed on Rosary beads.
The image of Divine Mercy has also been spread throughout the world. The image shows a white and red stream emanating from the heart of Jesus. These represent what poured forth from the side of Jesus when he was pierced by the sword. White represents the waters of baptism and red the precious blood of Jesus we receive in the Eucharist.
“Jesus, I trust in you!” – These words are on the bottom of the Divine Mercy image. I have incorporated these simple words into my writing and preaching, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus. With this simple expression, we express a great truth. We trust Jesus above anyone or anything. He is worthy of our trust because he opened eternal life to us. He gives us help and mercy and we can have confidence in him. I find my prayers becoming more simple and clear. These days, I draw comfort from a simple prayer prayed from the heart.
During these days of pandemic, at noon and 6 p.m., I have asked all of us in the diocese to join in praying these simple prayers: “Jesus I trust in You” and to add the invocation of the Blessed Mother with the prayer “Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.” As the saying goes, these prayers are “short and sweet.” Entrusting ourselves to Jesus and seeking the intercession of his mother are two sure anchors during this time of uncertainty.
Let’s open our hearts to his mercy. Take the time during this Divine Mercy Sunday and throughout the season of Easter to entrust yourselves to Jesus. The whole point of Easter is to receive the mercy of God. Let’s say “yes” to the gift of the resurrection, the gift of his mercy.
Jesus, I Trust in You!
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary