One of the most striking passages of the New Testament, one that we tend to think is too good to be true, is this phrase from St. Paul to the Romans, “We know that in everything God works for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”(Rom 8:28)
Why would God work all things out for our good? Is it because we are good and faithful or because we deserve only good things? Fat chance! God works all things for our good because He is unfathomably merciful. That is what divine mercy does: it works all things out ultimately for our eternal and temporal goods if only we never waver in our love for God and our trust in Him.
Recall how Cain had murdered Abel and then claimed to be innocent and ignorant when God asked him what he had done. God then said to him, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”(Gen 4:10-11)
The Epistle to the Hebrews contrasts the blood of Jesus to that of Abel by saying to us, “You have come …to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.”(Heb 12:22,24) Unlike the blood of Abel that pleaded for and obtained divine justice and vengeance, the sprinkled blood of Jesus has won for us things we could never deserve or merit – divine mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace with God.
God in His mercy has worked out and brought us the greatest good out of the greatest evil of the murder of His Son. The blood of His Son thus guarantees us that God in His mercy will surely work all things for our good to the extent that we show our trust in Him by word and loving action.
St. Peter writes to the Christians who are facing hostility and persecution from the pagan culture. They are being pressured to abandon their Christian beliefs and revert to paganism. He reminds them of the mercy of God that has brought them the greatest good through the unjust death and glorious resurrection of Jesus, “God in His great mercy has given us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” By this same divine mercy, their present trials would bring them to have a genuine faith, one that is time-tested in this earth, and ultimately lead to “praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Divine mercy will surely work out their present trials for their eternal and temporal good if only they persevere in loving and trusting in God, “Although you have not seen Him, you love Him; even though you do not see Him now yet you believe in Him.”
The risen Christ also worked all things out for good for His disciples who still remained with the early community after abandoning Him at the time of His Passion and death. Thomas doubted the resurrection and refused to believe, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Though he doubted, he remained connected to the community of faith. Christ repeated His earlier visit and also offered him the same peace He offered the others earlier, “Peace be with you.” By divine mercy, the same Thomas who had earlier doubted the witness of the community later on gave the boldest and clearest profession of faith not only in the resurrection of Jesus Christ but also of His divinity, “My Lord and my God.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need this celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday more than ever because we are becoming ever more trusting in ourselves and not in God and His mercy to us. We have forgotten that every grace received from God is a gift of His mercy to us. A good example of this is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo basically trying to put God out of the picture when he attributed the lull in coronavirus cases in his state to purely human effort. He said,
The number is down because webrought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that…That’s how it works. It’s math. And if you don’t continue to do that, you’re going to see that number go back up. And that will be a tragedy if that number goes back up.”
What happens when we begin to place trust in ourselves, efforts, and abilities and forget that we cannot desire, think, or do anything good without the sustaining power of divine grace and mercy? Evil and death will prevail when we have such attitudes. If you doubt this fact, simply reflect on the example of Judas in the Gospels and see the result of self-trust that has no room for God or His mercy. Only God knows the immense good that would have come to Judas after betraying the Lord Jesus if he had any trust in divine mercy to forgive Him and work out the good for him. But with a heart full of self-trust, he went and hanged himself in that despair born out of self-trust.
The blood of Jesus Christ, this same blood that flowed with water from the pierced side of the Savior, has this message for us today: Never stop trusting in the mercy of God and acting accordingly and God will surely work all things to our temporal and eternal good. This divine guarantee from the blood of Jesus covers everything, every single thing – good or bad, things that we do or things that are done to us.
By virtue of the blood of Christ, there is nothing in this life that Divine Mercy cannot and will not use to work for our good. By divine mercy, our sins, no matter how many or grievous they are, can make us more humble, more contrite, and give us greater self-knowledge. By divine mercy, our weaknesses and struggles can make us place our trust in God and not in ourselves. By divine mercy, the persecutions we experience from others can make us resilient and give us a purer motive for following Christ. By divine mercy, sickness can make us seek Jesus as our healer, appreciate our loved ones more, and then long for the unending life with Him. By divine mercy, even COVID-19 can teach us the frailty of human life and make us long for our eternal home with God. By divine mercy, we begin to see death as more than the end of earthly life but a passage way to the God whose Son “died for our sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”(Pet 3:18)
We are living today in a great time of great need in our lives, in the Church, and in the world. The last thing that we need is more prideful self-trust. The Letter to the Hebrews again invites us at such moments to approach Jesus with confidence, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”(Heb 4:16)
Christ has been pierced on the cross and His blood has been poured out for us. He has risen and has won mercy and grace for us. He is sitting on His heavenly throne now with mercy beyond our imagination for us and for our own good. What we need in times like this is complete and unwavering trust in God. This is the only thing that allows Divine Mercy to work all things, every single thing, no matter how dark and painful it may be, for our own good, here on earth and in the life to come.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!