Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
We are now in the Easter season. This coming Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, an opportunity to contemplate the great love of God that is extended through His mercy bestowed upon us by His Son’s suffering, death and resurrection. Imagine what a sensation it must have been for the disciples in the locked room when Jesus appeared. Did they want to scream, hide or kneel and beg for forgiveness? Remember, these were His trusted disciples who abandoned Him when He was crucified – only John and the women remained with Jesus at the foot of the cross. Even now with the reports of the resurrection, we find His followers frightened and skeptical. But Jesus greets them with peace and shows them His identifying marks: the wounds in His hands and side.
We, as the body of Christ, will bear the wounds of Jesus as we struggle to proclaim Him in a world that rejects Him. To this very day, our brothers and sisters throughout the world are martyred, merely because they profess faith in Jesus. But, despite the attacks on Christians, what is returned in the name of Jesus is peace. In this room, Jesus gives the disciples the gift of peace, and commands them to go and offer peace to the world through the forgiveness of sins.
Divine Mercy Sunday is the great legacy of St. John Paul II, who himself suffered publicly in the last days of his pontificate. He knew that the world was in need of mercy – mercy that could only be achieved through the love of God and the forgiveness of sins.
Is there little doubt in anyone’s mind of the divisions we experience in our world? We don’t talk to one another, we shout at one another. We don’t share our goods, we accumulate and hoard them. Yet in the Acts of the Apostles, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.”
However, we live as if Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection never happened, or was just an historical moment. If we truly desire to change the world, it will come through the admission of our sins and through seeking the mercy extended through reconciliation. It begins with us. We need to confess our sins and open our lives to conversion, transforming ourselves to become other Christs.
We follow Jesus’ commandment to love one another as St. John writes: “His commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith .” (1 John 5:4)
An insignificant religious sister from Poland, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, followed the dictates of her spiritual director and became an instrument of God’s mercy. Spreading His love and mercy, particularly for the poor sinners of the world, she trusted in His love.
Engage the sacrament of reconciliation. Make it a regular part of your lives, for the good of your soul, for the good of your families and for the good of the world, so like St. Thomas, you can kneel before our Lord in the Eucharist and cry out, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)
Embracing Divine Mercy because He loves us is the first step in following Jesus’ command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the April 3, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.