Hello there! How was your Easter? Mine was glorious! Grab a cuppa and find a comfy spot to relax a minute. With all the intense activity of Holy Week (the week before Easter) and then Easter weekend, I was exhausted. I actually took a 5 hour nap after lunch on Monday. It’s my day off, so I can do that, lol. Today, I was driving around a neighborhood with a friend and we were discussing Mercy. There were several issues at hand, and all of them could be intense. Some of them could make folks act like downright enemies, if attitudes and words were not weighed carefully. It could definitely lead one to exclaim, “Mercy!” Part of my current ‘job’ is to pray. Intercession, praying on behalf of another. Praying for health, finances, relationships, jobs, kids, homes to sell, computers, cars, pets. You name it and I’ve probably prayed about it for someone. I love doing that!
This coming Sunday is something we call Divine Mercy Sunday. There is a Catholic devotion – a set of prayers – that go along with this day. A Saint many years ago received a glimpse of the Lord’s vast mercy, His heart of love and grace, and His overpowering desire to show mercy to anyone and everyone. The only catch is that we have to ask for it; the cool thing is that we can ask for ourselves, or ask for others. We will have a special church service of prayer on Divine Mercy Sunday at 3pm. Why 3pm? That’s the hour Christ died on the cross, sealing His gift of mercy for eternity.
If you’re one of those folks who have only viewed God as a harsh and angry judge, let’s take another look at the cross, just before the Resurrection. Jesus has been nearly beaten to death, and paraded back and forth across Jerusalem all night. Then He was literally nailed to a rough cedar cross with something akin to railroad spikes. Nerves have been impaled, and He is slowly dying of asphyxiation. He makes a colossal effort to pull Himself up to catch a breath, and uses that precious air to pray. In unfathomable pain, He does not pray for Himself. He does not pray first for His family or friends. He prays instead, for the ones who have just done all this to Him, the ones who are standing below His naked, bruised and bloody body. Not just any prayer – He prays for mercy for them. Jesus prays that His Father, God in Heaven, Ruler of the Universe, will forgive those who have just brutally murdered Him, while He has a few breaths left on earth. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. His heart beats with Mercy.
A few minutes later, He repeats the agony of catching a breath, and again He speaks. He speaks to a common thief being crucified next to Him. He tells the repentant thief that he is forgiven, that he will be with Jesus today in Paradise. He speaks Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Not judgement, not ‘repent!’, not accusation. He speaks Mercy.
Jesus goes through the excruciating process of drawing another breath, and entrusts His Mother to the care of His best and most trusted friend. Mercy. Mercy toward His Mother, surely; but also mercy toward His best friend – Jesus’ Mother had become John’s Mother, too, through all the time they’d been together. Jesus showed mercy by requesting that they stay together to support and encourage each other in their season of grief, however short; and then in their season of continued ministry after the Resurrection.
We call the suffering and death of Jesus His “Passion”. His passion for the salvation of mankind that gave Him the courage and strength to endure the agony in the garden, the scourging and crowning with thorns, carrying that cross up to the top of the hill, and then to accept crucifixion.
This is where the main prayer of the Divine Mercy set comes in. We pray, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” We entreat God the Eternal Father to accept the sacrifice Jesus the Son made in His Passion, on our behalf and on the behalf of the entire world. We bring special people to Him in prayer for special mercy – friends, family, or situations that need His touch. We bring to Him people who need fresh starts, who need Easter Resurrection power in their lives.
How about you? Do you need some mercy in an area of your life? Just ask Him. Maybe you need more than just private prayer. Go find a pastor or priest. They can show you how to find and appropriate His mercy in your own situation.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!