The Divine Mercy devotion dates back to 1931, when a young Polish nun named Faustina Kowalska was granted a vision of Jesus with two rays of light coming out of his heart. Jesus told her to have a painting produced replicating the vision, and to have it signed, “Jesus, I trust in you!”
For the next seven years the Lord gave Faustina many other private revelations concerning his incredible mercy. He made it clear to her during this time that his mercy is unlimited and available to everyone, even to the greatest sinners. Or, to put it another way, he made it clear to her that his mercy is “unconditionally offered” to all.
We celebrate that encouraging and consoling truth as a Church this coming weekend on “Divine Mercy Sunday.” But it’s important for us to remember that this is only half the story. Yes, God’s mercy, through Jesus Christ our Savior, is unconditionally offered to every human person without exception.
However, it’s only “conditionally received!” Because we have free will, we can make the choice to close ourselves off from God’s loving and generous offer. One of the necessary conditions for the reception of mercy, not surprisingly, is sincere repentance for our sins. As Faustina said in her diary, “[To receive mercy it is necessary] that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.”
Another necessary condition, which is often the most difficult for us to fulfill, is a willingness to extend forgiveness and mercy to those who have sinned against us. Jesus said it clearly: “If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. [But] if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.”
Our Lord is here reminding us that during our earthly lives we are the ones who ultimately choose whether or not we receive the mercy that he offers so generously to the world. May God help us all to make the right choice.
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