Embracing the Divine Mercy of God
Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s a relatively new recognition but an important one. A life-changing one. One that points us back to Calvary, to the blood and water pouring from the side of our Savior’s lifeless body and washing us clean. How can we doubt the mercy and willingness of God to lavish His love upon us when we look to the cross? There, we see the love of God poured out upon us.
Too much of my life has been focused on God’s judgment, on trying to learn, trying to understand, trying to justify myself through knowledge and proper theology. Divine Mercy Sunday points me back to the lavish mercy of God. Mercy that is greater than my wildest dreams. Mercy beyond what my human mind can imagine. Mercy that is truly Divine.
From the beginning, God has been a God of mercy.
But from the very beginning, God has been a God of mercy. All the way back in Exodus we see the Lord telling His people, over and over again, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Exodus 34:6 ESV
Merciful is the first adjective He uses to describe Himself. Not just. Not sovereign. Not even holy. Merciful.
But too often, that is one of the last words that come to mind in my own mental image of God. Divine Mercy Sunday helps correct my thinking. It reminds me that, Mercy is not a tertiary descriptor, but a core characteristic of who God is.
The mercy of God is seen most clearly in Holy Week.
The mercy of God is seen most clearly in Holy Week. Jesus shows us, over and over again, just how deeply His mercy towards us extends.
At the last Supper, we see Him washing the feet of His disciples. He humbles Himself in service to them and compels them to live the same way to one another. We all know that Judas was preparing to betray Him and turn Him over for execution only a few hours later, but we often ignore that Peter also betrayed Him by denying Him 3 times that night and, ultimately, John would be the only Disciple who would stand beside Him at Calvary during His darkest hour.
But Jesus still served. He loved those who would betray Him. His mercy is seen clearly at the Last Supper. He didn’t question who was worthy, because ultimately, none were worthy, but He washed their feet and offered the same Bread and Cup to all. Even those who would walk away.
Because the Bread and Cup were, of course, His very Body and Blood poured out only hours later onto the blessed ground of Calvary.
His mercy towards us held nothing back.
His mercy towards us held nothing back. He gave His very blood, the life-sustaining force of His body poured out to cleanse us. To cleanse those who would betray Him, over and over again to our selfish desires.
And His mercy is seen, after the Resurrection, in Christ’s extravagant forgiveness of those who deserted Him.
When Jesus saw the Disciples, He didn’t chide them for abandoning Him. He didn’t say to Peter, “I told you so! I knew you weren’t willing to die for me!” – He embraced them. Humbling Himself to cook for them, He sought to restore and renew them. He entrusted them to continue His ministry even though they’d clearly proven themselves unworthy and then sent the Holy Spirit to equip them for the task.
His mercy reigns triumphant.
Because even in our brokenness, our failure, our sinfulness, His mercy reigns triumphant. Our God is Mercy. It’s how He defines Himself, both in speech and deed. The divine mercy of God gives us the hope we need to always hope, always trust, and always endure in trials because He has endured the agony of the cross for us. Even when we desert Him, He will not abandon us but will lavish us with His goodness and mercy all the days of our lives.
A friend once asked me how coverting Catholicism impacted my assurance of salvation. The question was meant genuinely, not out of a desire to corner me or to try and assert their superiority, but out of genuine curiosity about this aspect of my faith. I realized at that moment that, even though I would have always said I was assured of my salvation, the sacraments had affirmed that in ways I didn’t even know I needed. I am more aware of my sin and much, much more assured of the goodness of God and His lavish, divine mercy towards me, a sinner.
My sins are many. Your sins are many. The sins of the world are many. His mercy? It is so much greater than our wildest dreams dare hope.