(Divine Mercy Sunday – 2016)
This year, because of the liturgical calendar, we have a special alignment that speaks even more fully of God’s gift of mercy. This year our celebration of Divine Mercy is wedged between two great acts of God’s Mercy, indeed it is situated between the beginning and the culmination of His gift of Mercy, albeit in chronologically reversed order – but still between them. The celebration of Divine Mercy, this year, rests between Easter Sunday and the Solemnity of the Annunciation (which we celebrate tomorrow). Normally, when Easter Sunday isn’t so early in the year, the Solemnity of the Annunciation falls within Lent.
Why is the Solemnity of the Annunciation tied so closely to Divine Mercy? After all many would say, and rightly, that all celebrations are tied to Divine Mercy. But the Solemnity of the Annunciation is especially integral to this gift; Easter couldn’t have happened without the Annunciation.
Of course it is easy to understand why Easter is so connected to today’s celebration of Divine Mercy. The great Pascal Mystery; when through no merit of our own, due only to the love of the Lord mercy was shown to us, mercy opened the gates of hell; mercy healed the universe. Easter is when the light of mercy explodes to those who seek it. It is the culmination of this great gift from the Father. It is the reason for our joy.
But, again, why is the Annunciation closely connected to Divine Mercy?
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is usually almost forgotten among the celebration of Lent. If we look closely, this ‘hiddenness’ seems almost appropriate. Pope Benedict XVI commented on this at his March 25th 2007 general audience: ‘The Annunciation, recounted at the beginning of Saint Luke’s Gospel, is a humble, hidden event – no one saw it, no one except Mary knew of it – but at the same time it was crucial to the history of humanity.’ What is almost always overlooked is that at this small ‘backwater’ encounter there were two fiats, not one. Two acts of mercy happened at that meeting between the Archangel Gabriel and Mary, and both were needed to bring Divine Mercy among us. Mary’s yes to the will of God the Father; and first, the Son’s yes to His Father in doing Their merciful work by entering into the world. It was at the Annunciation that Mercy took a face.
But there is another ‘yes’, another face.
Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ, takes our Blessed Mother’s yes and adds hers to it. The Church stands in front of the face of God and the faces of all the angels, and the heavenly hosts and proclaims her fiat. Her yes, to continuing to bring the face to mercy to mankind. Two millennia have seen this ever different yet never changing face of Divine Mercy. It is the face of each and every faithful who has and is doing Christ’s work. Holy Mother Church continues to give physicality to God’s mercy – through her we can see and hear and touch Divine Mercy.
And, there is a fourth ‘yes’ – ours.
As have those who preceded us in the mystical body, we need to allow our own face to project Christ’s face and shine as the face of mercy. Our ‘yes’ needs to be added to the Church’s nearly 2,000 years of ‘yesses’. It is our ‘yes’, our face of mercy that ‘completes what is lacking’. Our suffering for those around us, the action of mercy, that brings them to Christ through His bride.
My brothers and sisters, do we take up this mission and move forward? Do we add our individual fiat to that of the Church, and of Mary, and of Christ? Are we adding our face to Christ’s and radiating mercy to the world?
This week we have seen the passing of a great witness to the mercy of God. Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation went home to the Father after 92 years of pilgrimage and over 70 years of continual public fiat in doing His will. By her faith in our merciful God she built the largest Catholic, indeed Christian, media network and spread God’s face throughout the world. It was her EWTN television station that daily prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy so the world could become aware and appreciate its power and participate in it. She has been called home – let’s take this milestone to recommit to our Merciful God and say yes to the mandate of Divine Mercy. Let’s embrace His mercy with our own fiat and in doing so let those who haven’t felt His mercy see His face in ours and by doing so instill in them the wisdom of the prodigal son when he finally realized who he truly was and where he should be.
Finally, friends, this Fiat of ours isn’t an annual celebration – it is a commitment to action, continual action. So as we add our ‘yes’ to the millennia of faithful let’s ask our Father to give us the strength to offer the mercy we received from Him to all we encounter.
Let your face shine through us Oh Lord, so that Your Mercy may bring light to our darkened world.