Sunday, May 1, 2011

Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday: "I'm Alive"

Readings for May 1, 2011, Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday:

Mercy Sunday 2011

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
May 1, 2011

Mankind will not find Peace until it turns with confidence to My Mercy. Words spoken by Jesus to St. Faustina and recorded in her diary.

This community is unique in that we have been promoting devotion to Divine Mercy for well over 30 years. To the best of our information we are the first community to be dedicated to Divine Mercy along with our Diocese as by the Words of our then, Bishop Speltz. What this all means to us and to the world would fill not only one book but many books. By the words from her diary we are told that the Infinite Mercy of God can not be fathomed by all the Angels and Saints combined, making God's Mercy a Mystery beyond anything you and I can comprehend. And yet is the only Hope of mankind. Don't try to figure it out: just believe, and accept it.

Does God have a plan for us? It seems so, for you see in 1904 the corner stone for St. Paul's Church was laid at 3:00 in the afternoon on the 2nd Sunday of Easter: that would come to be called Mercy Sunday by John Paul II in the year 2000. At the same time Sister was declared a Saint of the Church. Then on the eve of Mercy Sunday, 2005, John Paul II dies. This very weekend he was declared Blessed, by Benedict XVI in Rome. Plus, for almost 2000 years 3:00 has been held in special remembrance as the hour that Jesus died on the cross, in other words the hour of great Mercy.

A little side light: when St. Paul's was remodeled, for some reason the statue of the Sacred Heart was not reinstalled. Was this, too, in God's plan: that a place should now be left open for a statue of the Divine Mercy? I often say, "don't tell God, He can't do that!"

Lets take a look at our carving of the Divine Mercy. You will note that on the Holy Card - a picture of our carving - that there seems to be an aura surrounding the image. The photographer who took the picture could not account for the bluish tinge, nor could those he consulted. Was God trying to tell us something? Well don't tell God, "He can't do That!"

A very long story, at this point, must be shortened, because of time restraints. I was asked 30 sum years ago to carve a statue of the Divine Mercy, knowing absolutely nothing of the message or the devotion. That's not really a surprise, as the approval of the Message of Sister's diary was approved only a short time earlier, which is another story. But because a centerfold article in a Divine Love Paper, four of us men, along with our pastor, wanted to bring here to central Minnesota the message and the benefits of the Mercy of God.

We learned later from the diary, that when Jesus asked for a image of His Mercy and the painting was completed, sister cried because the painting wasn't near what she had seen of Jesus as Mercy. Jesus told her that it was not in the paint or the talent of the artist, but in the hearts of each who come before His image.

First you will notice that this carved image is done in a style that maybe we're not used to. For the face is more of an icon, a reflection of the Eastern Church, that is from Poland. The idea here is that you are to superimpose on the image the Christ you carry in your heart upon the image depicted. Therefore maybe you see Jesus the Merciful just a little different the anyone else.

We learned from the diary that the image was to be painted with a brush, I didn't know that. But I have a habit of painting my carving with thinned down paint, with a brush, but light enough for the gain of the wood to show through. The Cross is to remind us that the Resurrection is not complete without the Cross. The white and red rays remind us of Baptism and Eucharist.

At the time I didn't know that the imaged depicted Christ appearing to the Apostles in the upper room, and that he was appearing through the door. If you examine the carving by hand you will find that there is no back: as apparently Jesus had not fully appeared through that door. Now that brings up a story too interesting to let slide by. Matter of fact, it is my favorite part of the story because it is wrapped up in the Old Testament and authenticates the whole message of Mercy.

This is from Leviticus 16.1 This is the third book of the Old Testament, and is one of the books of the law. This the Day of Atonement. The account records for us of the death of Aaron's two son who having approached the Lord's presence died, and we are told for offering unholy fire.2 The footnotes3 remind us that the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies only once a year on this Day of Atonement. And this, to make a sin offering for the people. There is much more in Leviticus 16 that you all should read and get a handle on. For my purpose what I want you to hold firm is that when the High Priest comes from the Holy of Holies alive this is a clear indication that God had excepted the Atonement offered by the High Priest. Remember this as we turn back to the image of the Divine Mercy.

Jesus is appearing through the door of the upper room and saying, "Peace be with you." When He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord, Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Did you make a connection with Leviticus 16? More then anything Jesus is saying, I'm alive. I'm alive, the Father has accepted the Atonement that I made on your behalf. Breathing on them Jesus sends them out to carry on His mission of Mercy in the forgiveness of sin.

Can you think of any message of the God's that is more Merciful then that of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? For the gift of God's Mercy can truly bring Peace to those who have confidence in His Mercy. Echoing the song of the Church, "Jesus Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed!"
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

More reflections:
Somewhat-related posts:
1 Leviticus 16.

2 Leviticus 10:1-2.

3 Levtiticus 16, NAB, footnote 1: which in turn cites Exodus 25:17, Exodus 26:33-34, and Hebrews 9:3-12. Also see Leviticus 16, NAB, footnotes 3 and 5.

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