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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Divine Mercy Sunday in the Pandemic

The mercy of God is at work in the world because Jesus is at work in the world. He is bringing to completion the eternal plan of the Father in manifold ways—and the greater the work being done, the more hidden from our eyes the accomplishment. This is not magical thinking. It is simply faith. We do have a problem with magical thinking in the world. Yes it is magical to presume that positive thinking and religious presumption will fix our problems. It is magical to think there will be no consequences if we do not use common sense or listen to the good counsel of experts and government leaders. It is also magical to think that we can confront our present crisis without prayer and conversion of heart. It is madness to presume we can confront this crisis without God. It is crazy not to humbly ask for His help. It is naive to put all our trust in human institutions. It is definitely magical to believe that the present crisis is simply about the spread a physical disease. There were decisions made on the basis of profiteering and cavalier consumerism that made the world vulnerable to deadly dishonesty. We live in pure fantasy not to believe that the most vulnerable are the greatest victims of all. World powers play their heartless games, and we, each one, shield our hearts from being pierced by their plight. We are deluded to imagine that God does not see this. The Lord is not responsible for the pandemic. Satan is because he is a murderer from the beginning. He is the father of lies, and there have been some very evil lies. God nevertheless is watching in judgment over us—and who is just in his sight? It is time to appeal to His mercy. Shameless, we are driven by shame. It is magical to try to drink away the pain or distract ourselves from it through escapes into digital diversions. Indeed, behind pandemic there is sin, structures of sin, social sin and personal sin. Medicine cannot heal sin and quarantine cannot contain it. Only divine mercy can do that. The Mercy of the Father is forever more powerful than sin. Give your sin to Him. Death cannot overcome this immense love. Give your dread of it to Him. No amount of suffering can diminish the inexhaustible vitality of His goodness to us—for His Son has already suffered to the end for our sake, and He raised Him up. Nothing prevents the Father from doing the same for us—if we will trust His Son whom He has sent for our sakes. No plight is too much for His boundless love to bear. His mercy restores dignity. It alleviates hardship. Divine Mercy lifts up the lowly. It shelters, feeds, clothes the poor. It moves hearts long frozen and convicts even the most poorly formed conscience. It accompanies the lonely and walks alongside those who believe they are having to carry on alone. Such is Divine Mercy at work in the world —it shines like the stars through the saints in the streets working with the homeless, healthcare workers in hospitals with the sick and dying, among civil servants trying to preserve order and quell fear, among those carrying on essential tasks behind the scene, among parents caring for their children and children caring for their parents, among neighbors who look in on each other, and among ministers and priests who offer the Eucharist for us though we cannot be there with them. So there is great reason for confidence - and it is time to rouse great confidence. If the sky is dark, God smiles down on us through myriads and myriads of stars. If wave after wave of misery seems to flood over the world and one's own soul, greater waves of mercy are also flowing. These mighty waves have an unconquered source, unseen by the eye of natural reason, but only a prayer away. The Risen Lord with open wounds and pierced heart comes to us stepping into this difficult darkness in search of us so that we do not walk alone, and if we follow Him who is Mercy itself, He will lead us home.

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