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Divine Mercy Sunday message: ‘Ask for mercy, be merciful and trust in Jesus’

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St. John Paul II named the Second Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday — and April 30, 2000, the beloved Polish pope canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, a poor nun who was a member of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland in the 1930s.

During a Mass livestreamed from the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington on Divine Mercy Sunday 2020, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge spoke of the constant need to “ask for mercy, be merciful and trust in Jesus.” 

St. Faustina’s notebooks, published as the “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,” put a renewed focus on the mercy of Christ, and her vision of him telling her to spread the words “Jesus, I trust in you.”  St. John Paul II called her "the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time."

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge reflected on the connection between mercy and peace, and on Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you,” addressed to his disciples in his first appearance after his resurrection. Even though Thomas showed doubt and a lack of faith, he noted that Jesus did not say “Shame on you, Thomas” — he said “Shalom, peace be with you, Thomas.”

“Like Thomas, there are times we are filled with doubt and unbelief, especially in the midst of trials, perhaps like the ones we are experiencing in these unsettling days,” Bishop Burbidge said.  “And it’s precisely in those moments that the Lord is standing in our midst, longing to forgive us, to heal us, and to allow us to begin anew.”

Bishop Burbidge called God’s mercy “a pure gift. It’s not something we deserve. It’s not something we have to earn. Pure gift. And to express our thankfulness for that gift, we in turn must be merciful. We must forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven us.” He acknowledged that forgiving one another is not always easy, but it’s possible, and will bring peace. 

“As you make your spiritual communion today, ask for God’s help, renew your commitments to ask for mercy, to be merciful and to trust in Jesus, the One who stands in our midst and says to us throughout this Easter season and always, “Peace be with you.' "

In a simple, intimate ceremony in the Cathedral’s sacristy, where the Mass was celebrated, two men were welcomed into the church. Craig Joseph Barnes was baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time. Robert Steven Hinson was confirmed and received the Eucharist.  New Catholics are usually welcomed in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults ceremonies at Easter Vigil Masses, but those rites were postponed this year due to the coronavirus, and widespread restrictions on large public gatherings. 



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020