The Lord is My Divine Mercy

divine-mercy“Do not be afraid,” says the Lord, “once I was dead, but now I am alive.” (Revelation 1)

Here’s a question.  If we had to name the single most famous and beloved little part of the Bible, worldwide, what would it be?  Everybody’s favorite?  Right, Psalm 23.  Everybody loves the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord God Almighty rules the cosmos not as a capricious tyrant, nor as an absentee landlord, but as an attentive shepherd.  He knows what we need, and He provides.  Our spirits droop; He revives us.  We get lost; He leads us back to the path of life.  We walk through a dark valley, but we fear no evil.  Because we feel His crook and His staff on our little flanks, keeping us moving forward, even through the darkness.

He knows where He leads.  To a table with an overflowing cup, and the oil of gladness.  To the house of the Lord.  To unending goodness and kindness.

Ok, now:  Everyone familiar with the image of Divine Mercy?  The picture of Himself which the Lord revealed to St. Faustina, during the 20th century?   A famous painting, with the Lord Jesus in white, with rays of light flowing from His Sacred Heart.  The pale rays signify the water of Holy Baptism.  The red rays signify Christ’s Precious Blood, shed for our salvation.

Anyway, is it going too far to say this:  That the Divine Mercy image really gives us the perfect visual depiction of the 23rd Psalm?  If we could translate the words of Psalm 23, not into Spanish or Swahili, but into an image—wouldn’t it be the Divine Mercy image revealed to St. Faustina?  Give me an Amen?

Do not be afraid.  Once I was dead.  But now I am alive.

Fear can do us good.  I live in mortal fear of getting up in the pulpit to talk, without anything properly prepared to say.  Parents fear that certain videogame devices will swallow-up whole their children’s heads and hands and necks.  And we all rightly fear that we would offend God, that we would displease our Creator and Father.

caravaggio_incredulity_st_thomas1But one thing has always distinguished Christians from everyone else.  We do not fear death.

At least we don’t fear death when we focus and meditate.  Human beings naturally recoil from dying, by a kind of kneejerk instinct for survival.  That can’t be avoided, and it’s a good thing.  But a Christian meditates, prays, puts everything in the hands of the divine Shepherd.  The Christian entrusts his natural life to the loving Lord Whose Heart lies open, with blood and water flowing out for our salvation.  The Christian meditates on all this, and finds peace, even in the face of imminent, unavoidable death.  The martyrs of Christ have sung their way into the lions’ den, or to the stake, or to the gibbet.

Do not be afraid, says the Lord.  I Myself was dead.  But now I am alive.

Divine Mercy Sunday during the Jubilee Year of Mercy!  We won’t see another such day in our lifetimes!

That the Lord emancipates us from fear, relieving us of the deepest anxiety:  that is indeed a great work of mercy.  We can live in the truth.  We can face reality as it is.  Not running away.  Not deadening our minds and perceptions with false comforts and fantasies.  Because, truly, we have nothing to fear.

Jesus, I trust in You.  I know that You will forgive every sin I confess.  I know that you will go to any length, to keep this little lamb on the safe path.  Thomas doubted.  So You came back to the Upper Room a second time.

Christ lived His Paschal Mystery–the most-bitter suffering and the most-sublime triumph—He underwent His Passover–so that the 23rd Psalm could be not just a pious canticle for us, but the most fundamental reality of our entire consciousness.  Jesus Christ—the Divine Mercy, the Alpha and the Omega, Thomas’ patient friend—Jesus turns our day-to-day existence into a living, breathing Psalm 23.  Fear no evil, because goodness and kindness will follow you.  A table will be spread before you.  You will dwell in the house of the Lord.

What else do we read in Sacred Scripture?  Perfect love casts out fear.  His perfect love for us casts out our fears.  We need not fear the unknown.  We need not fear whatever lies beyond, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns.

What can we not accomplish, for the glory of the Father, when Christ purges fear from our souls?  What feats of tender, patient love can we not undertake, with joy, when we possess Christian fearlessness?  We will conquer the earth with love!  Let’s start right here.  Let’s conquer the Roanoke Valley with love.  Seriously.

He will see us through.  His mercy endures forever.  Though we dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, we will not want for anything.



Surfing the Gifts with the King


Christ is the faithful witness. (Revelation 1:5)

Jesus said, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37)

We need to grasp the truth of God, if we are to make any sense out of our lives. To obey God, to walk with Him, to hope in Him, to enjoy His friendship as His beloved children—that path alone offers true peace and the prospect of real happiness. This path lay hidden to the world. But then Jesus came and bore faithful witness to it, testifying to it Himself.

How? Christ has “testified” by obeying the Father in everything. The eternal Son submitted to being born of an obscure Jewish virgin. He submitted to growing up in a poor family and working hard, with His hands. He submitted to every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant, in order to fulfill it.

He undertook a hardscrabble, vagabond ministry of long wanderings and cold nights sleeping on the desert ground. He taught and worked miracles precisely as His Father would have Him do, not for His own personal adulation, but to glorify the One Who sent Him.

Christ chose Apostles and disciples, trained and instructed them, precisely as the Father willed. He instituted the Holy Sacrifice of His Church, and He gave Himself over as the innocent Lamb to reconcile mankind with God. He rose from the dead, walked the earth for forty more days, ascended to heaven, and poured out the Holy Spirit—all in perfect accord with the Father’s plan.

xt-kingIn other words, Jesus Christ is the king of harmony with God. The world has no royalty as royal as Christ, and His royalty consists in this: Perfect obedience to the heavenly Father. Christ bore faithful witness and testified to the truth by His perfect harmony with the Father’s will.

Now, what, exactly, is the will of the Father? Christ has “harmonized” with an original melody, so to speak. The original melody is the plan, the truth, the love which directed Christ through His entire pilgrim life. This plan, this truth—the love with which the Father acts: that is the pre-eminent mystery of life, the secret of Divine Providence. We are like surfers. The Providence of God is the ocean.

Hopefully we memorized the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit when we prepared to receive Confirmation…wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and holy fear. We may have memorized these words, but maybe we didn’t understand what these Gifts actually are.

All of them involve direct interior contact with the transcendent, invisible, unknowable God. The operation of these Gifts directed Christ through His entire “testimony” to the Father—His pilgrim life as a man. So, by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit we can harmonize, too–just as Christ has perfectly harmonized with the plan of Providence.

They are gifts because we ourselves, by our own devices, can neither see, nor know, nor grasp, nor domesticate, nor reduce to our level the Great Father of our existence. The clay cannot say to the Potter who molds us, “We’ve got you! We have your number! We know your game!” No. The ocean moves, and not at our direction. We surf on, by co-operating with the waves.

The “kingship” of Christ: Only He and His saints in heaven see the Almighty Potter of all this clay. The King of Harmony with the Creator has reached the final goal; He sees the very mind of God. He pours forth His seven-fold spiritual gifts upon us, so that, despite our human weakness and ignorance, we can have interior harmony with the unseen God:

Holy Spirit dove sunWe can understand and know God’s plan. We can hear His commands and deport ourselves as His children. We can have His strength to endure difficulties. We can truly fear the prospect of grieving Him. And we can grow wise with heavenly wisdom.

In other words, through faith and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we can stand firmly on the Truth that nothing can rattle or shake, just like Christ always stood firm, even in the face of a cruel and unjust death.

Our spiritual houses can be built on that solid footing. We can make God our true “home.” –To the outside eye, a surfboard seems like a very small home. But the one on the surfboard of co-operation with God knows that his or her true home is not just the board, but the whole big wave, the whole big ocean.

Indeed, by faith and the gifts, we reign right alongside the eternal King. We can share the kingship of Christ. We just need to stay in the state of grace. Which means going to Confession on some kind of regular basis.

What is the pomp and circumstance of the true King? Spreading out His arms on the cross, out of love. We celebrate this very sacrifice, our King’s eucharist, at the holy altar—and all the spiritual gifts He gives us work their way to fruition in us by our constant celebration of the Holy Sacrifice.

We begin with the Mass. We bring it to fulfillment with the Mass.

All praise, glory, laud, and honor to the King, Jesus Christ, the perfectly obedient Son of the eternal Father!