Monday, May 2, 2011

The pure gift of Divine Mercy

The use of analogies to bring about a clearer and almost instant understanding of a viewpoint is a tool used by many throughout the ages. The more clearly the analogy parallels life and the material being discussed, the greater the effect.

Parodies do this too. Satires like George Orwell’s Animal Farm are classics which can be taken as plain and simple one dimensional stories, or, when brought to the world of politics of the time, spoke most eloquently in an allegorical way, of what was happening in a world power.

The mystery and wonder of Christ’s Divine Mercy is a most awesome and compelling truth to behold for us Catholics. The belief that St Faustina started this is as erroneous as saying that Singapore Airlines started aviation. What that holy Polish mystic did was to become a channel through which God’s continued revelation of his Divine Mercy, which is at the heart of Heaven, allows the lowliest among us any chance at all of enjoying the beatific vision after we die.

The term “Paschal mystery” refers to the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and it really is also the Divine Mercy played out in slow motion. What? How can the cruel and torturous death of the Son of God be anything close to mercy? It seems much more cruel and cold-blooded than merciful. How can someone made to die for the world’s sin be a demonstration of mercy? How can what seems to be abandonment by even God the Father convey mercy? To be sure, it doesn’t immediately show it.

But that is why it is Divine Mercy. God’s mercy is so deep and so unfathomable that it is not something that the eye, mind or heart can readily perceive and absorb. We want Mercy to be so easily spelled out and often, we want to be able to deserve it, to work for it, to earn it and to even control it. Largely because, if we are honest with ourselves, we want others to deserve, work for, and even earn our mercy when they ask us for it.

Well, Divine Mercy is Divine because it is pure gift, and we don’t deserve it. Someone died in our place and we don’t deserve it. Someone took on our sins and we don’t deserve it. We can’t figure out the logic of it, because you can’t figure out the logic of love, especially if it is God’s love.

I always say that the wonder of our Christian religion is not that we love God, but that this God shows us just how crazy he is for us and he searches for us up and down the ages. And when we really get this, that is the moment we will truly begin to respond to the Divine Mercy that is open to us, and we will want to be agents of this mercy ourselves.

The problem that a lot of people have with this incredible abundance of God’s mercy is that they have developed a resistance towards giftedness and blessedness. And I think this is especially so in a meritocratic country like Singapore, where one needs to prove, to work towards, to attain, to earn and to be credible in order for one to get somewhere. And it cuts across so many levels in our society. From gaining entry to secondary schools, to universities, to getting jobs and even gaining places in Parliament. If you want a place, you have to earn it. You can’t ride on someone else’s name or position or track record. Well, at least not all the time.

So, in the last week and in the next week, we in this tiny island republic will see a lot of debate about who has the credentials, the smarts or the worthiness to be voted into Parliament at the May 7 General Election. If we are so shaped by what’s going on in the world of politics, and simply transfer this mind to the way that we think about God’s mercy and justice, then we will obviously also think that we need to work for Divine Mercy, and merit it, and earn it. And we will do a grave injustice to Divine Mercy because it has nothing at all to do with worthiness and merit.

There are many who are critical about how in Singapore, the GRC (Group Representation Constituencies) system allows into parliament people who if left on their own in single seat wards will have no chance in hell to get in. Actually, the mercy of God is like that kind of system too. Only in our case, GRC stands for God’s Redemptive Cross, where we literally ride on Jesus’ merciful and glorious wounds to get to heaven. Because left on our own merits, we will be dumb as sand, and unable to do much.

But only because of Divine Mercy and forgiveness can we ever hope for heaven. Yes, only because of Divine Mercy can we even say that salvation is in the bag, and when we see our sins, we will recognize our stupidity and no longer make any excuses for our silly sinful selves and will honestly call a spade a spade. The moment we see the splendour that awaits us, we will literally have nothing to say because in the light of amazing Divine Mercy, we will not know what to say.


  1. ‘’ The “Paschal mystery.................... really is also the Divine Mercy played out in slow motion........................... God’s mercy is so deep and so unfathomable that it is not something that the eye, mind or heart can readily perceive and absorb...’’ – somehow I feel that this is what John 3:16-17 is also telling us about ! And through St Faustina , God reminds us of the availability of this divine gift.
    Strangely enough, last night a talk by Professor Richard Hardy ( courtesy of SPI ) touching on spirituality in ministry also echoed your words about Divine Mercy as pure gift..........(quote)- ‘’God’s forgiveness/love is ours even before we know that we need it.....”
    Perhaps this awareness of the divine gift, is to help us to have the courage to pay heed to these familiar words of the Eastertide hymn – “seek not life within the tomb; Christ stands in the upper room.....’’ For after all the activities of Lent and Easter, one is loath to move on. It is not always easy to look beyond the tomb, for it means confronting ‘newness’ and the unknown again !

  2. Dear Fr. Luke,
    I think probably the strongest antidote to personal pride is to live in a constant state of gratefulness to God for everything He has done for us. In particular, for His Divine Mercy in and through Jesus Christ - which none of us could ever, ever deserve.
    Thank you for your comments and have a Happy Election Day!