“How nice would it be if, as a token of this Holy Year of Mercy, every diocese started a structural work of mercy: a hospital, a home for the elderly, for abandoned children! There are many things one can do. It would be nice if every diocese thought: ‘What can I leave as a scourge of the living Jesus, as a token?’ Discuss it with your bishops. “With this proposal, Pope Francis concluded yesterday his homily in St. Peter’s Square, during the prayer vigil on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy, which is celebrated today, at the behest of John Paul II (yesterday recurred the eleventh anniversary of his earthly death).
Pope John Paul II instituted it on the first Sunday after Easter, on the occasion of St. Faustina Kowalska’s canonization who was baptized with the name of Helen and who belonged to the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. In one of the many appearances to the Polish nun, on February 22, 1931, Jesus asked her to order to paint the image of his Divine Mercy the way he manifested to her: “Dressed in a white robe, a hand raised to bless, while ‘the other one is on his chest, touching the garment, which was slightly drawn aside, emanating two large rays, one red and the other pale.” These are the signs of water and blood, of the graces of the Holy Spirit, and of the soul and body together. He asked her to affix the following inscription below: “Jesus, I trust in you!” and promised that “the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” This image was painted for the first time in Vilnius, Lithuania, by the artist Eugeniusz Kazimirowski. The painting in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow is by Adolf Hyla who painted it in 1943, under the leadership of the religious woman’s confessor, Father Józef Andrasz. A copy is venerated in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome, near St. Peter’s Basilica. In a private revelation of 1935, Jesus asked Faustina to pray with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
In 1980, John Paul II published the encyclical “Dives in Misericordia“. “Mercy is like ab indispensable dimension of love, like its middle name,” we read in chapter V, paragraph 7. Mercy is Love. Thus, we see in the devotion to the Divine Mercy, the link between the last three popes. “God is rich in mercy”, says the letter to Ephesians, which opens John Paul II’s Encyclical on divine mercy; “Deus Caritas Est“, ‘God is Love’, was the title of Benedict XVI’s first encyclical in 2006; “Praised Be” is Francis’ Encyclical of universal love. “God has revealed Himself manifesting His name several times: the Merciful,” Pope Bergoglio said yesterday, during the prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square. That is how God is called in the three monotheistic religions. With this name, the first and largest of the 99 attributes of Allah, opens the Quran in its first Sura. God is the Loving, Most Gracious, and Most Merciful. Divine Mercy becomes visible In Jesus as concrete love, in the flesh and spirit, the union between heaven and earth, which finds encouragement in the Cross, His trace, His gift of Love.
“Jesus, especially with his lifestyle, and through his actions, has shown that this love is present in the world we live in, it is love at work, love that speaks to man and embraces everything that makes his humanity. This love is particularly evident when one meets sufferance, injustice, and poverty, when one meets the historical ‘human condition’ in its entirety, which manifests man’s limitation and frailty, both physical and moral, in different ways. The way and sphere in which love manifests itself is called ‘mercy’ in biblical language”, we read in chapter II, paragraph 3 of the “Dives in Misericordia“. The love of God is real, “at work”, as it was in Jesus, brave, heroic, in the full meaning of the word, from the greek “eros“, which means the active energy of love, the strength of love, passion as a total gift of the self, as an unlimited drive towards the other. “Becoming merciful means learning to be brave concrete and unselfish in love,” Pope Francis tweeted yesterday.
We read in St. Faustina’s diary this sentence Jesus pronounced in one of her visions: “My gaze from this image is exactly like My gaze from the cross.” A pure look of pure, true, boundless love, which “takes each one of us and lifts us up to His cheek,” as Pope Bergoglio said. A love that translates into everyday life, concrete actions, and behaviors regulated in accordance with the Beatitudes, which – as it is said in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – “depict the face of the Christ and portray His charity.” That is the token of mercy: sharing bread, our daily food, be it material or spiritual, with those who need it and do not have it, give a home and a family to those who have none, cure the sick, divide the mantle – physically and symbolically – with the naked, exposed to the harshness of life and of the soul. That is how we can heal Jesus’ wounds, the in our suffering brothers. That is our faith, that is our mission, that is Christianity, that is the lively and sincere devotion to Divine Mercy.