In the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross we find the ultimate expression of love, for “no one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). “God, the Father of Mercies,” (Rite of Penance) through the power of the Holy Spirit, raised his only Son from the dead and in so doing displayed for us the ultimate power of love, a love that is stronger than death. Love has conquered. “We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has any power over him,” (Romans 6:9). Even so, the expression of love and the power of love does not stop here, but with Divine Mercy.
After Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples and to the Apostles, he did not reprimand or condemn them for fleeing from his side when he needed them most. He did not vent anger against Peter who thrice denied him. He did not raise his voice against Thomas for his doubt and neither does he do to us when we doubt him and when we sin against him. Through his great mercy, he continually calls each of us – as he did the Apostles - individually and by name and he extends to each of us the fullness of his great love. To each of us he says, “I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
To Saint Faustina Kowalska, Christ the Lord revealed that at the moment of death he offers to each soul the grace of conversion; he extends one final time the opportunity to receive his love, to receive his redemption, to receive his salvation. But, of course, this grace, this love, the soul can either accept or reject, for true love never forces itself upon another.
The Lord Jesus says to Dismas, the repentant thief, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). For God wishes “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth “(I Timothy 2:4). For this reason Jesus says to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving but believe” (John 20:27). “Believe in the truth,” he says to us. “Believe in me, for ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’” (John 14:6). “Come to me,” and know the fullness of my mercy (Matthew 11:28).
Sometimes we have a tendency not to believe in the mercy of the Lord. We think, maybe, that he is too kind, too generous, too loving to us sinners. We know that we do not deserve his love and so we have a difficult time bringing ourselves to believe he can possibly love us as he says he does. We think, perhaps, that he is tricking us, that there is some clause we have not heard, some small print we have not yet read. But, my friends, he is himself Truth itself. He will never lie to us; he will never deceive us; he will never disappoint us!
His love and his mercy he offers to us, without any strings attached. He only calls us to carry our cross each day with him (cf. Luke 9:23). Do not doubt his love! Out of love for us sinners, the sinless one, Jesus, the only Son of God, seeing us in the wretched state of sin, leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross (Pope Benedict XVI, Inaugural Homily, 24 April 2005). Jesus says to us, “Come, feel my wounds for my mercy is tangible. Come, see the wound in my side from where my love flowed out for you, for my mercy is visible. Come, take shelter within my wounds and let my love and mercy wash over you and surround you and give you peace.”
Some might take this Divine Mercy as an opportunity to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die” approach to life. But if we reject the love of the Lord in this life, why would we accept it in the life to come?
The Truth stood before Pontius Pilate and he did not recognize the Truth nor did he accept the Truth; instead, Pilate demanded, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). The testimony Pilate heard about Jesus seemed absurd, bizarre, and unbelievable. Rather than believe the Truth about Love, Pilate chose to believe the lies of the Evil One, he chose to believe the falsehoods of this world that promise power, wealth, happiness, and liberty. Pilate failed to see that all of these things only enslave us and make us miserable. Only the Truth, only Love, can free us! And this he has done through his Death and Resurrection; he has made us free!
It seems too good to be true, and yet it is true. Do not doubt his love and his mercy, my friends, for he has written it in his own blood using the nails upon his hands. Stretch out your hands to his. Feel his wounds. See his love. Open yourself to his mercy. St. Anthony of Padua reminds us that
Christ has inscribed us in his hands … for three reasons: (1) to show the scars of the wounds he bore for us to the Father, thus inviting the Father to show us mercy. (2) In order not to forget us. For this reason he says in Isaiah: ‘Can a woman forget her infant, and not have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have written you in my hands’ (Isaiah 49:15-16). (3) He has written in his hands what kind of people we should be and in whom we should believe. ‘Do not be unbelieving,’ O Thomas, O Christian, ‘but believe’ (The First Sunday After Easter).
Let us then, with the father of the possessed boy whom Jesus freed, let us cry out to him, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
“Let us ask, therefore, dearest brothers [and sisters], and humbly entreat the mercy of Jesus Christ, so that he might come and stand in our midst. May he grant us peace, absolve us from our sins, and take away all doubt from our hearts. And may he imprint in our minds faith in his passion and resurrection, so that with the apostles and the faithful of the Church we might merit to receive eternal life. May he grant this, he who is blessed, [praised], and glorious through all ages. Let every faithful soul say: Amen. Alleluia” (St. Anthony of Padua, The First Sunday After Easter).