4-24-2002 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

You remember those days in your high school English class.  You had to distinguish between a noun as a thing and a verb, which is always some kind of an action. “Divine Mercy” strikes me as both. It is the good Lord’s prerogative as a loving God, but also His bestowal of it on those who seek Him in their daily lives.

I must admit that the whole devotion of the Divine Mercy and Sister Faustina’s vision came upon me years ago quite by surprise. A lady came up to me at the parish where I resided quite upset wondering why there were no confessions being heard on Divine Mercy Sunday, I told her that I didn’t know what she was talking about. Reflecting on that long ago incident, it occurred to me that my ignorance might well have sprung from the fact that I was immersed in academe, unaware of this relatively new phenomenon. Now I am well aware of how confession is an integral part of the annual Divine Mercy celebration.

Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet has become part of my daily life now, and I try my best to pray it at 3:00 each afternoon.  I imagine its Polish roots easily led Pope St. John Paul II to urge the devotion be kept by the whole Church on this second Sunday of Easter. Certainly both the secular world and the Church need mercy.  We can devise so may ways to damage our relationship with God.  Just think of these contemporary movements: “Cancel” and “Woke.”

Now that we’re in the third year of Covid, I believe we can derive at least some good from what this killer virus has collectively caused as well as individually.  I for one believe Covid has brought me a renewed awareness of how dependent I am on God for everything.  Yes, we can be grateful that science came up with vaccines. But science implies scientists. But where did they get their intelligence and analytical powers to do this service?  No doubt from a watchful and merciful God.

We’re given a beautiful example of divine mercy today in the Gospel story of St. Thomas. After Our Lord encouraged “the Doubter” to probe His sacred scars, He never strongly remonstrated or belittled Thomas or demand an apology from him.  Instead, He prompts a beautiful act of faith from Thomas. His words encompass everything the New Testament seeks to proclaim about Jesus’ identity. In a prayer that is short and simple but profound and adoring: “My Lord and my God.” That same mercy Thomas received is offered to us, especially if we pray for it.

I close with a lighter take on the whole subject of justice and mercy with this story: Once upon a time a young lady who occasionally walked through the park after work stopped to have her picture taken by a photographer on a particular day. She was very excited about the whole idea. As she walked out of the park, she looked at her picture in total amazement.  Then she turned and headed back to the cameraman. When she got to him she raised her voice and said angrily: “This is not right!  This is not right!  You have done me no justice!”

The photographer looked at the picture and then looked at her and said, “Miss, you don’t need justice.  What you need is mercy.”

God love you and give you His peace.

Reading I:  Acts 5: 12-16: The miracles featuring St. Peter represent such cures as performed by all the Apostles in these early days of the Church. They drew many new people to Christ.

Reading II:  Revelation 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19: This scene is a type of epiphany given to John.  It included a message.  Jesus, having been exalted to divine status, gives the Apostle John a command to preach about what he has seen and heard.

The Gospel:  John 20: 19-31:Jesus suddenly appears to the barricaded Apostles and sends them on mission.  The once doubting Thomas makes a profound profession of faith, encapsulating the entire New Testament theme and purpose.