Everyday when I was at grade school, our classes were always interrupted by a pause at three o’clock in the afternoon. I grew up imagining that whatever one does, at this particular hour of the day, everybody stops as if the world is at a standstill, and pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. I even thought this was the so-called holy hour. Among all the prayers that I learned as a child like the Angelus and the grace before and after meals, this Divine Mercy prayer, although I did not know what it meant, was something I prayed by heart. “Jesus, King of Mercy, I trust in you!” Later on, when I matured and started discerning my path to the priesthood, I realized that praying at three o’clock is like taking a daily dose of vitamins for my soul to— “trust in Jesus” everyday. Just as He entrusted himself totally to the Father of Mercy at that defining moment in saving the whole world, so we who pray entrust ourselves to the fruits of Jesus’ self-offering in Calvary. In short, Divine Mercy is a prayer of commitment to trust in Jesus everyday.
The readings for the second Sunday of Easter expand our understanding of Jesus’ “Divine Mercy.” In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, God is not only merciful but Jesus’ disciples, in following him were also merciful. Through mercy, the disciples healed the sick, drove out unclean spirits and a large number of people followed them. The disciples witnessed what they heard from Jesus in Luke, “Be merciful, like your heavenly Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) In Pope Francis’ second year of papacy he announced the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), which presents God as having a face of mercy and boldly proclaims that the name of God is mercy itself. For this reason, it is through mercy that miracles happen and also through the faces of people who are merciful that we see the face of the Risen Christ on earth.
The second reading deepens the power of mercy in John’s vision of Jesus Christ. A resurrected Jesus in all his glory tells John “not to be afraid.” Fear is quite common when we are faced with the unfamiliar, the unknown, and the uncertain. It is normal to be afraid but once we remember Jesus, who faced the most unfamiliar phenomenon of death in total trust to the Father, we see trust as the very opposite of fear. He was not afraid to trust again his disciples who ran away from him, or even the one who denied him. This is His invitation today: to trust God in the midst of suffering and to trust God among those who betray us. Then the God in whom we have put our trust is indeed trust-worthy for He can never betray us. That is why the Word of God is mercy. It is beyond forgiveness. It is compassionate treatment to those in distress. No wonder, mercy in Latin is merced meaning “price paid”. It connotes forgiveness, benevolence, and kindness. It is walking the extra mile, walking the path of God.
In the Gospel, the Risen Christ breathed forth his disciples with Peace. Peace is the fruit of mercy. People who are merciful are also peaceful and so recognize that Jesus is not only the King of Mercy but also the Prince of Peace. As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday may the breathing forth of Jesus for peace penetrate our hardened hearts, our fearful spirits and broken world that we may be like Thomas, who boldly proclaims to the world that Jesus is our Lord and God, the King of Mercy whom we trust. Amen.
Reflection by Quizzer Besinio, Seminarian