From the early Epistles, we are reminded that the world’s redemption came through the “Mercy of God” and nothing else. One could end there and simply journey through life meditating on this reality; that the hope of eternal life is founded on God’s merciful love! But what better way to demonstrate this unfathomable mercy than through the open Heart of Jesus, pierced with the soldier’s lance for the love of us. Besides, in this me-centered generation, we are in desperate need of “holy reminders” to draw us away from self, towards something greater, something Godly, something that magnifies the greatness of God’s love… So each year during the month of June, our liturgical calendar calls us to respond to His great love by reflecting on the merciful love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This devotion to the Sacred Heart became well known particularly in the late 17th Century when the Catholic Church, in the midst of much heresy and controversy, followed by the Protestant Reformation, paid heed to the private revelations of “a little nun” in a convent in France named St. Margaret Mary. Her writings indicate that Jesus appeared to her in anguish, showing her his Sacred Heart, a heart of love, wounded by the growing ingratitude and irreverence of mankind for him who through his passion and cross had given everything for love of us. Jesus’ Sacred Heart became a symbol of his sacrificial love, and a popular devotion for many Catholics of that time. But it didn’t stop there. In the 1930s, also a very dark time in human history, our Lord revealed his Merciful Heart, his Divine Mercy, through the private revelations of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun from the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. This devotion, however, did not start immediately. It is said that “God works in history” and her writings were put on hold until the papacy of St. Pope John Paul II who released them to the world. The Pope canonized Sister Faustina as the first saint of the new millennium and announced the first Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Influenced by the Diary of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II wrote his second encyclical “Dives in Misericordia” (Rich in Mercy), in November of 1980, defining our time as “a time of Mercy”. Once again all having to do with the merciful love of Christ exhibited through his Sacred Heart, pierced for the love of us…
So we are duly reminded, this month in particular, that in our struggles, in our trials, to reach out to Christ, in prayer and meditation, for he who is “Rich in Mercy” will not abandon or forsake us! Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine.
Author: Deacon Jean Plourde