Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday and the New Birth

This Sunday we celebrate what traditionally was known as either Low Sunday or Quasimodo Sunday.  In 2000, Blessed John Paul II decreed that Low Sunday would be known as Divine Mercy Sunday, promoting and recognizing the explosive growth of Catholic devotion towards Christ's mercy over the last 70 years.

According to the Diary of St. Faustina, Jesus wanted the feast after Easter to be known as Mercy Sunday.  Longtime readers of my work know that I tend to not spend too much time discussing private revelations, even those the Church has approved.  Yet even without subscribing towards every specific of the visions, I always found this choice an interesting one.

We call this Sunday Quasimodo after the first words of the Introit, which quotes the Blessed Apostle Peter's exhortation to be as newborn babes desiring after the "sincere milk" of Christ, which causes us to grow in holiness.  This is a perfect metaphor for Christ's mercy.  Newborns require their mothers milk to live, or at least a very cheap formula you buy from the store that tries to simulate the real thing.  Withhold this milk and the child will die.... fast.  Withhold Christ's Divine Mercy, and the world ends.  Leave everything solely to God's justice, and we have the Flood, forever, and with no ark.

So while this tells us much about Christ's mercy, it also tells us a lot in that we are described as "newborn babes" in seeking Christ's mercy.  A newborn babe doesn't really know much about taste.  He hasn't really developed a discerning tongue.  Even if they have, they really can't do anything about it.  They are really just supposed to have whatever their parents give them, and they have an instinctual trust that what their parents give is best.

This is the very essence of faith, and the kind of faith we are meant to have in God.  The Gospel recounts the "faith" of Thomas.  Thomas states he will believe, but on his terms.  His terms aren't unreasonable.  He wants to see the risen Christ.  Indeed, once he sees Christ, he instantly adores Jesus as God.  Yet Christ calls us to have a greater faith than this.  We need to have that faith like the newborn, whose only instincts are to trust their parents.

This truth serves the next:  as a result of the Death & Resurrection of Christ, we are a new creation.  The old us is gone.  Christ's mercy makes us a new creation because He wills it, not because of anything we have done.  Since we are a new creation with faith, we can overcome the ills of this world.  This is the point of the Epistle reading. (1 John 5:4-10)  This faith is a profession of trust in God's mercy and promises.

The reason we have to have this complete trust in Christ & His Mercy is that things will get tough in the world as His disciple.  We will be asked to do things we are not normally inclined to do, and to go places we would just as well skip.  Out of the original Apostles, only St. John died a "natural" death, that is not a martyr.  They went as far west as Spain, to as far east as the remote regions of India spreading the Gospel, relying on little else save the power of Christ to mercifully provide for their needs. 

This is the message Catholics need today.  As we get a Pope destined to undertake the cause of reform, there will be things that will make us uncomfortable, even if they be neccessary.  Even in our personal lives, the life of a Christian is that of repentance.  Repenting of your sins is one of the toughest things to do, as it is completely opposed to our own natural inclinations.  It is precisely this reason that we have to have that unceasing faith in God, that this repentance will be good for our own soul, and that of the whole world.

Holy God
Holy Might One
Holy Immortal One
Have Mercy on us
And on the Whole World

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