Faith & Life


By JOAN PATTEN, AO     3/31/2024

The Easter season brings out the best in us. We saw a greater attendance at Sunday Mass. “Easter outfits” contributed to the beauty and colorful ar­ray of the church environment. We cheer­fully greeted one another with, “Christ is Risen!” Glorifying Christ’s Resurrection and victory over death merit this festive celebration, and our Easter traditions allow us to incorporate the joy of Easter into our lives. Naturally, we look our best, and after 40 days of prayer and penance, we feel pretty good about ourselves and our relationship with God. However, we are still writing our “saint stories.” There are always more areas of our lives that we need conversion, and even greater graces are available from Our Lord, who calls us friends (cf. Jn. 15:15).

We judge that a good friend accepts us completely, with our good qualities and weaknesses. Those who know us at our worst moments of failure and misery and yet still choose to call us “friends” are friends indeed. For friends such as these, we don’t have to wear our best appearance or perform in a certain way to be loved. A true friend may know us better than we know ourselves and draw the good out of us that we didn’t think we possessed.

In relationships with others, we slowly reveal ourselves, and as trust grows, we allow ourselves to be known more intimately. Friendship with Jesus is like this. Jesus tells us, “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father (Jn. 15:5).” He re­veals His wounds to us like He did to Thomas and invites us to draw near and touch Him (cf. Jn. 20:27). He tells us that His thirsts for our love (cf. Jn. 19:28).

He walks with us like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and asks for the details of our hearts (cf. Lk. 24:19).

Jesus makes His Heart vulnerable to us and freely offers Himself in friendship.

The depth of our friendship with Christ is measured by our honesty with Him. We can try to present ourselves to the Lord as we think we should be or choose to reveal our brokenness and woundedness before the Lord. What does the Lord do when He gazes upon the misery we entrust to Him? A glance through the Scriptures immediately tells us the answer, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5).”

God does not love us despite our weaknesses but because of them. His response to our misery is an outpouring of His infinite love. This act of love is the mercy of God the Father that Jesus makes visible to us.

The Church celebrates and gives thanks for God’s mercy in a special way this Sunday. St. John Paul II instituted this celebration as “Divine Mercy Sunday” in 2000, noting that the liturgy for the conclusion of the octave of Easter focuses on God’s mercy and for­giveness. St. John Paul II also canonized St. Faustina Kowalska at the same time and encouraged veneration of the Divine Mercy image that Jesus revealed to St. Faustina.

The world is in a miserable state and is in great need of God’s mercy. Instead of contemplating our misery, let us turn our eyes to the image of the Di­vine Mercy and allow Jesus to behold our misery so He may pour out His redemptive love. The more we make ourselves available to the mercy of God, the greater we will experience His mercy and, therefore, be a sign of mercy to others. Acts of mercy are not simply good deeds but participate in the salvific action of God, who heals the wounded, restores the broken and frees the captives (cf. Is. 61:1-3). The simple prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you,” that was revealed to her, invites us to surrender our misery to God, who is Mercy.