Divine Mercy Sunday is a day celebrating one of God’s greatest attributes: His Mercy. Many homilies that we hear on this day remind us that God’s Mercy is boundless and that we have nothing to be afraid of if we go to Him with complete confidence. We are told that God wants to forgive us and offer us His Mercy and that He desires this more than we can desire it ourselves. And all of this is true. But what seems to be avoided, perhaps in fear of being too “rigid” or in an erroneous understanding of being pastoral, is that in order to receive this boundless and overwhelming Mercy, we must be filled with contrition and have a desire to turn away from our former actions and truly change our lives. And if we don’t have this attitude, yes, God will still love us, but we will not be able to obtain His Mercy.
My Mercy does not want this, but Justice demands it. (Diary of St. Faustina, 20)
These words of Jesus to St. Faustina describe His feelings toward the suffering souls in Purgatory during a vision that she had. They let us know that we cannot just live life relying on the Mercy of God if we are not willing to truly have contrition and try to change our ways. If we don’t properly accept His Mercy, we will be subject to His Justice. And in fact, the Mercy of God is supposed to make us want to turn our lives around and be truly contrite. We should look at how willing He is to open His arms to us and what He did for us and realize that He wants the same self-giving from us. “A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn,” Psalm 51:17 tells us. God will not turn us away if we are true penitents, but this is the prerequisite. His Love may not be conditional but His Mercy is. Jesus still loved the Pharisees, but He could not extend His Mercy to them unless they were willing to put aside their former lives and humble themselves to accept His Love. And so it will be with us. This Divine Mercy Sunday, let us ask ourselves how willing we are to approach God humbly and contritely and be truly worthy of His Mercy by making conscious efforts to put our former ways aside and walk with Him through life.