This is what the Church has to say in part about this great feast: “During the Church’s millennium celebration in 2000, Pope John Paul II declared that the Second Sunday of Easter be known as “Divine Mercy Sunday”. Prior to this celebration, the Pope also wrote a profound encyclical called “Rich in Mercy”. This encyclical explained the doctrinal and scriptural foundations for our understanding of mercy. Our Holy Father looked to a holy woman of Poland, Sr. Faustina, for inspiration. He canonized Sr. Faustina at that same Mass in 2000 at which he instituted the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday. He also clearly articulated the essential message that Jesus gave to Sr. Faustina and the message is that the graces of His mercy are greater than the stains of our sins.”
Pope Francis reaffirmed the need for mercy. Recently he announced a special Jubilee Year starting on December 8 to focus the Church on the need for mercy. In announcing the Jubilee, the Pope said the Church must always keep its doors open so no one is excluded from God’s mercy. He challenged us to extend God’s mercy to those around us. He said, “…the bigger the sin, the greater must be the love that the Church shows to those who convert.” In another address he stated “…if we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds for us.” “Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter, but open to God.”
It may seem unusual that Divine Mercy Sunday comes so soon after the season of Lent. After all, is not Lent the season to focus on repentance and mercy? Well our Church believes that the timing is most appropriate because Jesus’ message to Sr. Faustina reminds us that there is no limit to his mercy for those who truly believe, for those who humbly ask for forgiveness. His mercy is not limited by boundaries. It is not impacted by seasonal limitations. This was his message to Sr. Faustina, and this is his message to us.
Today, as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, we can thank the Lord for his divine mercy and for his willingness to extend this mercy to us time and time again. We can also thank him for the gift of our precious faith which we should humbly embrace and cherish.