The Second Sunday of Easter, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday, takes us deeper into the Paschal Mystery: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation. We’re invited in the Sunday’s gospel passage to join “doubting” Thomas in touching the wounds in the Body of Jesus and entering more deeply into belief.
The Divine Mercy prayers were given to St Faustina in the mid-1930s, in between two ravaging World Wars. They are meant to help us continue pondering the great lengths God has gone to to draw us into His love and into His life, and to pray for our world to return to the mercy and peace of God. In 2000, Pope St John Paul II decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter be devoted to Divine Mercy, a day on which we pray for our world, especially where it needs peace and forgiveness for sins. (Incidentally, St John Paul II died on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2002!)
The “conversion prayer” given to St Faustina asks us to dwell in particular on the wounded side of Christ: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water flowed out…” (Jn 19:34)
Is there a deeper meaning to this passage than just proof that Jesus truly did die on the cross? St John Chrysostom, who died in 407, thought so. He spoke of the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross as symbolising the waters of baptism and the life-giving gift of the Eucharist. We are both washed clean and spiritually nourished by the generous sacrifice of Jesus.
In a time where, due to a global pandemic, we are unable to access the sacraments of the Church in the way we are accustomed to, let’s allow ourselves to ponder what they mean so that we will appreciate them more. While we hunger for the sacraments, let us think of those who were preparing to enter the Church this Easter and have had their baptisms delayed.
And let us pray, this Divine Mercy Sunday, for the areas specific to this time that we can commend to the mercy of God: for nations that are overwhelmed by the coronavirus, for those who weren’t prepared for their death or the death of a loved one, for crushed and exhausted healthcare workers, for confused communities and pressured leaders, for families under financial and relational pressure, for those suffering mentally from social isolation… the list goes on!
There is always so much to pray for, but this time in particular calls for a new trust in all that Jesus accomplished in his passion, death and resurrection as we pray for our world that desperately needs knowledge of his mercy and love.
Finally, let us take courage from the words of Jesus in the following passage from St. Faustina’s Diary:
“Today Jesus said to me, I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My mercy … When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer: “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.” (Diary 186, 187, c. 1937)
The “conversion prayer” of Divine Mercy:
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.
O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.
O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You
Rosie Drum mgl is Assistant Director of Catholic Youth Parramatta.