As many of us know, this year has been declared a Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy by Pope Francis, which should remind all of us that Divine Mercy is a game plan we should follow every day, and not just near Easter.
Many otherwise devoted Catholics know little about this beautiful devotion.
The message and devotion are based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Its message is both simple and profound, and stands as the perfect antidote to the self-hate that is sin.
The Divine Mercy Message is simply that God loves all of us more than we hate ourselves. The reason we can make the above statement is that God is all perfect and all love, and His love transcends our weakness and sin.
God created each of us with a sacred purpose, a special and unique mission in this life. It is our job to discern, discover, develop, and implement that purpose and mission in our lives. As Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos once stated, “No one was ever lost because his sin was too great, but because his trust was too small.”
Because God’s love is so great, so is His mercy, and because that mercy is greater than our sins, we should always approach Our Lord with trust. Trusting God will allow us to receive His mercy. Finally, we must return that mercy to others. In fact, this message is as simple as ABC:
A….Ask for His Mercy through constant prayer, repentance, and petitions for that Mercy.
B….Be merciful to others by extending love and forgiveness.
C….Completely trust in Jesus in that the more we trust in Him, the more we will receive.
Sin as Self-Hate
We know that the devil is the embodiment of hate, lies, and disobedience. He threw away all that God gave him out of greed for power and independence. Having rejected God with ingratitude and betrayal, the devil wants nothing more than to entice us to do the same. Nothing enrages him more than the fact that we have each been given the ingredients, and the mission, to become saints in the service of God.
Consequently, the last thing that Satan wants us to remember is that we can achieve great things in the name and service of God. He wants us to find ourselves incapable, hopelessly lacking in the “impossible” task of ever doing any good.
At some level, we know that God’s love and mercy for us is so great that it makes no sense to our simple, human limitation. This love and mercy contradicts satan’s lie that we are worthless and pathetically ill-equipped to make any difference in God’s plan.
Since satan does not want us to be in God’s loving embrace, he will do anything and everything to get us to surrender to the ultimate lie that we are merely God’s misfit toys, not meant or fit to aspire to holiness, much less sanctity.
Since God’s open arms in the face of our defects make no sense to us, sin becomes our unique opportunity and strategy to sabotage ourselves. If God is all love, then it follows that sin becomes the singular and collective expression of self-hate, the self-fulfilling prophecy of a doomed eternity in despair that we deserve as fallen followers of a fallen leader.
Divine Mercy as The Ultimate Antidote to Sin
If the gap between God’s goodness and our defect is so great, so seemingly insurmountable, then the direct, simplistic response to that perceived gap is to surrender, to stop wasting our time trying to be something we can never be.
Why try to be more like Jesus, when we are a lot more like the devil? This is hell’s propaganda for perdition, but we do not have to buy that propaganda.
Therein is the ultimate twist of Divine Mercy. Namely, that we are not called or expected to grasp for a perfection of which we are innately incapable as defective human beings. Such a misguided effort will merely lead to frustration, defeat, desperation, and surrender, not to mention the inherent self-obsession of those wrapped up in their ups and downs.
Rather, Divine Mercy lovingly and patiently asks us to admit our limitations, seek forgiveness and forgive in return, and love God so much that we dare to offer our defective selves in His service despite the fact that our self-appraisal of our own value, worth, qualification, and merit for that service is so apparently pathetic.
At the end of the day, following Christ is not about happily skipping on some cloud without faltering or falling. If we have learned anything from this world, it is that following Our Lord is more about getting up from the falls and stumbles than pretending that we can always avoid them.
Christ never promised us that we would never fall while following Him, but that He would always be there to help us get up again. In fact, did not Christ Himself fall on the way to Calvary? It is curiously ironic, I think, that the word “sin” in Spanish means “without”, for sin is truly choosing to be “without” God.
Let us recall that Peter loved and trusted Jesus despite his betrayal, and that the good thief humbly gained salvation at Calvary as well. Whether we swallow our hollow pride and reach for Christ as Peter did, or follow Judas by wrapping that pride around our necks, is our eternal decision to make.
In this beautiful year of Divine Mercy, let us resolve to love God with enough trust, obedience, and dedication to overcome the self-sabotage of sin.