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Mercy changes everything

In the 1930s, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska, a young Polish nun from Krakow. He told her that: “my mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of my mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of my mercy.”

Nearly 80 years later, we still need to hear the Lord’s message as given to St. Faustina. Each one of us is a sinner. Each one of us needs God’s mercy.

And God’s mercy is available, freely and abundantly, to each one of us.

Last month, as Pope Francis began his pontificate, he reminded the world that: “God never tires of forgiving us, never! … He is the loving Father who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us.”

So often, we are afraid to confess—afraid to admit that we have been wrong; afraid to admit that over and over again, we fall into the traps of sinfulness. We are afraid that in the sacrament of penance, we will admit that we are weak and will not be loved in our weakness.

But God does not expect us to be strong. He loves us because when we are weak, he gives us strength. Many of us have experienced the merciful love of God the Father. We know the strength that comes with the confession of our sins—strength comes through the grace of forgiveness.

To forgive is to accept the weakness of another and to share in the struggle to be strong. This is how God forgives us. It is also how God asks us to forgive.

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, we should remember the words of Pope Francis: “Let us … learn to be merciful with everyone.”

Divine Mercy Sunday is about God’s forgiving love for us. But it should also be about our forgiveness of others. If we receive God’s mercy, we receive his patience, his warmth and his embrace.  If we give mercy—we become agents of that grace. To forgive is to share the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ.

To forgive is to be patient and kind and generous to those who have fallen in weakness. To know that sanctity is a process—that no one becomes a saint without a struggle. To forgive is to offer our help to those who are struggling.

In family life, forgiveness can be hard. We struggle to forgive our parents, our children, our spouses. But forgiveness means that we have entered into God’s own life—and that we have chosen to love with God’s own love. If we want to be saints, our mercy, like God’s, should be available freely. Our hearts should become hearts of mercy.

If you have difficulty in forgiving someone ask the Lord to grant you the grace to forgive as he forgives. In asking for that grace, the Lord will help you to be merciful as his Father is merciful.

“Mercy,” said the Holy Father, “changes everything.” As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, I pray that mercy changes us. I pray that we might be transformed in mercy—and that we might transform others in the enduring mercy of God’s love.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila is the eighth bishop of Denver and its fifth archbishop. His episcopal motto is, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).
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