Mercy: The Easter Gift
John Paul II
Homily on the first universal celebration of Divine Mercy
April 22, 2001
"Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the
living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore" (Rev
We heard these comforting words in the Second Reading taken from
the Book of Revelation. They invite us to turn our gaze to
Christ, to experience His reassuring presence. To each person,
whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and
dramatic, the Risen One repeats: "Fear not!; I died on the Cross
but now I am alive for evermore"; "I am the first and the last,
and the living one."
"The first," that is, the source of every being and the
first-fruits of the new creation; "the last," the definitive end
of history; "the living one," the inexhaustible source of life
that triumphed over death forever.
In the Messiah, crucified and risen, we recognize the features
of the Lamb sacrificed on Golgotha, who implores forgiveness for
His torturers and opens the gates of heaven to repentant
sinners; we glimpse the face of the immortal King who now has
"the keys of Death and Hades" (Rev 1:18).
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures
forever! (Ps 117:1). Let us make our own the Psalmist's
exclamation which we sang in the Responsorial Psalm: "The Lord's
mercy endures forever!" In order to understand thoroughly the
truth of these words, let us be led by the liturgy to the heart
of the event of salvation, which unites Christ's Death and
Resurrection with our lives and with the world's history. This
miracle of mercy has radically changed humanity's destiny. It is
a miracle in which is unfolded the fullness of the love of the
Father who, for our redemption, does not even draw back before
the sacrifice of His Only-begotten Son.
In the humiliated and suffering Christ, believers and
non-believers can admire a surprising solidarity, which binds
Him to our human condition beyond all imaginable measure. The
Cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, "speaks
and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely
faithful to His eternal love for man. ... Believing in this love
means believing in mercy" (Rich in Mercy, 7).
Let us thank the Lord for His love, which is stronger than death
and sin. It is revealed and put into practice as mercy in our
daily lives, and prompts every person in turn to have "mercy"
towards the Crucified One. Is not loving God and loving one's
neighbor and even one's "enemies," after Jesus' example, the
program of life of every baptized person and of the whole
A great joy
With these sentiments, we are celebrating the Second Sunday of
Easter, which since last year, the year of the Great jubilee, is
also called "Divine Mercy Sunday." It is a great joy for me to
be able to join all of you, dear pilgrims and faithful who have
come from various nations to commemorate, after one year, the
canonization of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, witness and messenger of
the Lord's merciful love.
The elevation to the honors of the altar of this humble
religious, a daughter of my land, is not only a gift for Poland
but for all humanity. Indeed the message she brought is the
appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the
questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked
by terrible tragedies. Jesus said to Sr. Faustina one day:
"Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My
mercy" (Diary, 300). Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that
the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity
at the dawn of the third millennium.
The Gospel, which has just been proclaimed, helps us to grasp
the full sense and value of this gift. The Evangelist John makes
us share in the emotion felt by the Apostles in their meeting
with Christ after His Resurrection. Our attention focuses on the
gesture of the Master, who transmits to the fearful, astounded
disciples the mission of being ministers of Divine Mercy. He
shows them His hands and His side, which bear the marks of the
Passion, and tells them: "As the Father has sent Me, even so I
send you" Jn 20:21).
Immediately afterwards, "He breathed on them, and said to them,
'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they
are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'
" (Jn 20:22-23). Jesus entrusted to them the gift of "forgiving
sins," a gift that flows from the wounds in His hands, His feet,
and especially from His pierced side. From there a wave of mercy
is poured out over all humanity.
Let us relive this moment with great spiritual intensity. Today
the Lord also shows us His glorious wounds and His Heart, an
inexhaustible source of light and truth, of love and
The Heart of Christ!
His "Sacred Heart" has given men everything: redemption,
salvation, sanctification. Saint Faustina Kowalska saw coming
from this Heart that was overflowing with generous love, two
rays of light which illuminated the world.
The two rays, [according to what Jesus Himself told her], denote
blood and water (Diary, 299). 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 (See Jn 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. Here alone can those who long for true and
lasting happiness find its secret.
"Jesus, I trust in You!"
This prayer, dear to so many of the devout, clearly expresses
the attitude with which we too would like to abandon ourselves
trustfully in Your hands, 0 Lord, our only Savior.
You are burning with the desire to be loved and those in tune
with the sentiments of Your Heart learn how to build the new
civilization of love. A simple act of abandonment is enough to
overcome the barriers of darkness and sorrow, of doubt and
desperation. The rays of Your Divine Mercy restore hope, in a
special way, to those-who feel overwhelmed by the burden of sin.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us always to have this trust in your
Son, our Redeemer. Help us too, St. Faustina, whom we remember
today with special affection. Fixing our weak gaze on the divine
Savior's face, we would like to repeat with you: "Jesus, I trust
in You!" Now and for ever. Amen.
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