Mercy Sunday: An Encounter With God’s Great Love and Mercy

Catholics all over the world celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy every 2nd Sunday of Easter, after Church authorities issued a Decree in the year 2000, proclaiming the 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Divine mercy image

THE MESSAGE

The message of God’s Divine Mercy was revealed to the world some time in the 1930s through a Polish nun named Faustina Kowalska. The message is about God’s great love for all and how this love is greater than all of human kind’s sins combined, and whoever comes to God in prayer and seek His mercy will be abundantly blessed.

A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER

I first heard of the devotion to the Divine Mercy on National television when I was a kid. It must have been summer vacation because I remember seeing the adults gathered in the living room every afternoon, watching their favorite telenovela (Mara Clara on Channel 2), and at exactly 3:00 O’ Clock, the network would air what Catholics call the 3:00 O’ Clock Habit. I’m not sure exactly how the adults regarded this so-called habit (they were immovable before the boob tube), but I can’t recall having been compelled to observe it, or any other religious rituals for that matter.

Despite being born to a Catholic family and educated in a Jesuit University, I never really considered myself a very religious person. In fact, I lived a somewhat wayward life as an adolescent away from home. This is not something anyone should be proud of, but you’ll see later that I’m trying to arrive at a point.

Despite my wayward behavior though, God never forgot me. I have forgotten Him and ignored Him hundreds of times, but He never left me and I didn’t realize this until I’ve reached this age.

They say that children who don’t seek to please their parents lead foolish lives and eat the bitter fruits of their actions. You want to ask me if this is true? Well, my answer is, I’m not so sure because our parents love us so much they always cushion our fall. However, if our earthly parents loved us, there is somebody up there who loved us even better and knew exactly how to chastise erring children.

“Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God…” – Jeremiah 2:19

A Love Greater than Our Sins

The Divine Mercy Shrine at Divine Mercy Hills in El Salvador City in Mindanao, Philippines. This has become pilgrims' favorite in the lovely island of Mindanao. (photo from boholgateway.com)
The Divine Mercy Shrine at Divine Mercy Hills in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines. This has become pilgrims’ favorite in the lovely island of Mindanao. (photo from boholgateway.com)

Despite the love, the comfort and the convenience we grew up with, I never came to appreciate God’s immense love. What an ingrate, you might say. True. I should be ashamed. Until I went through the most difficult challenge of my life. A very important person in my family became very ill and unlike in any other illness where the patient voluntarily seeks treatment, this one tricks the patient into thinking that nothing is wrong and treatment is out of the question. For years my family waged war against this infirmity and I nearly went nuts running around looking for help but little did I know that I was seeking help in all the wrong places. Every step I took only led me to make more and more mistakes. All because I relied on my own strength and denied that something greater than me exists.

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himslef.” – 2 Timothy 2:13

God must have seen that I was losing it and so little by little, He devised ways to inconspicuously lead me to the right direction. I believe He used people and circumstances to pull me out of the ditch I shoved myself into and the funny thing is, these people didn’t even seem to know that they were part of a divine plan; they didn’t know they were playing the part of my guardian angels. So you see, despite our sinfulness, God will always find ways to draw us back to Him. If only we can recognize it.

One of these guardian angels was my OB-Gyne, who made me feel like I can always tell her my deepest troubles and who gave me a chaplet of the Divine Mercy. Being a devout Catholic herself, she told me to offer everything to God in prayer and trust in His mercy; everything will soon fall into place.

Never in my entire life did I go to consult an adult (or any adult figure); my friends and peers were my comfort zone. Apparently, however, that comfort zone wasn’t very comfortable at all in this particularly stage of my life. I was growing!

Intrigued by what was written in that chaplet, I decided to follow what my doctor prescribed: offer everything to God in prayer.

THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT PRAYING AND GOD’S UNFATHOMABLE MERCY

And so I prayed. Not that I never prayed before, but this time my prayer was different from the way I usually prayed. Bo Sanchez wrote, “Make your wishes God’s wishes,” and so I tried to figure out what God’s wishes for me were. He has a wish for me?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Years of torment taught me that praying isn’t merely asking God to grant our wishes, to keep us away from harm and to bless us in everything we do. More than asking, it is about developing a relationship with a higher being, a supreme being greater than anything or anyone else we know of. Each time we pray, we nurture that relationship and in this profoundly mysterious relationship we are gradually led to the right direction, away from our wayward ways in the past.

Prayers Indirectly Answered

Going back to this loved one’s illness I told you about previously, I already said that I’ve sought help and advice from different people and tried almost everything to convince this person to seek treatment, but nothing worked. Until I came across God’s promise to those who seek His mercy. On the 2nd Sunday of Easter in 2012 I gave up everything to God and told Him I didn’t want to drag anyone to the doctor against their will, so let Thy will be done.

After over three years of grueling pain and emotional suffering, and allowing God to take the reins, this reluctant family member finally volunteered for treatment.

This was an answered prayer, in His perfect time. I waited three years but those three years weren’t in vain because the waiting did a lot of good not only to me but to the rest of my family.

The Love That Can Heal Wounded Souls

Sometimes our physical illnesses are manifestations of our spiritual malnutrition. I’m not saying we have all been healed. Rather, we have been treated. There is a great difference. And in order for us to continue living in a state of health and well-being, we need to nurture both body and soul one day at time.

For as long as we are here living as mortals, we are not immune to sickness, spiritual or otherwise. There is that constant and ever present danger of backsliding, which we wouldn’t want to happen.

“For if after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:20-22

Therefore constant prayer for God’s grace and mercy is necessary. There is nothing we can do on our own; only through God’s grace. And so as the Feast of Mercy approaches, I pray that God will grant us the grace and mercy to continue to grow with Him in prayer and to grow more and more like Jesus everyday.

Happy Easter everyone!

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