Believing in the gift of salvation won for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus means believing that love is more powerful than any kind of evil. To believe in this love revealed in Christ also means to believe in mercy, because mercy is an indispensable dimension of love.
Consider this true story: In 1989 a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck Armenia killing over 30,000 people. In the midst of this devastation a young father left his wife safely at home and hastened through the streets of his neighborhood to the school where he had left his young son earlier that day. He had always told his son, “No matter what happens, I will always be there for you.”
He arrived to find the school collapsed upon itself like a house of cards. One can only imagine the depth of his sorrow and pain as he stood there gazing at the pile of debris covering his son. Between the wailing and lamentations of other parents who had gathered, accepting their children had been killed, this courageous father remembered his promise to his son, Armand. Whether he was alive or dead, he would never abandon him.
In spite of others telling him to leave and go home, he began to dig over the area of his son’s schoolroom. No one else helped. He dug through the rubble for 12 hours…24 hours…36 hours…then in the 38th hour after pulling away a wallboard he heard a very weak cry. He cried out, “Armand!” He heard in return, “Papa”! The cries of other weak voices followed. Parents and bystanders who had given up and lost hope of any one surviving such a disaster now joined in the search. Fear and despair were replaced by hope and love.
Armand, freed from the tomb of debris, emerged to assist his father in digging out his classmates, reminding them of his father’s words and promise, “No matter what happens, I will be there for you!” In the midst of the darkness, these words gave hope and courage to Armand and his classmates. His father’s determination, selfless love and promise offered hope and assurance in their darkest hour and resulted in the rescue of 14 of the 33 students.
This is the kind of Heavenly Father we have. He sent his Son to pull us out from under the debris. He comes down from Heaven to save His children and restore their rightful dignity.
In His message to Saint Faustina, Jesus said:
[T]ell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet … Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.” (Diary 699)
These words show that Our Lord takes no joy in the loss of a sinner; indeed, He came that all might have life. And as He has done throughout history, he gave us a great means of growing closer to Him. Through Saint Faustina, He has given us the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a wonderful prayer elevated and promoted by Blessed Pope John Paul II precisely to help us enter more deeply into the Mercy of God.
Divine Mercy Sunday, inaugurated also by Blessed John Paul, falls one week after Easter Sunday, and with good reason. The Easter season enlightens our minds and hearts to live the Gospel more intensely, to offer the ray of light to all people of our time. We are currently engaged in a spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of every person. Divine Mercy, which we celebrate this Sunday, is our mission, and challenges us to seek out the lost and gently lead them to the One who brings freedom.
Our pro-life efforts find their full meaning in this reality of love. When we stand in witness to the sacredness of Life, we stand for mercy, compassion and restoration of true human dignity. Armand’s response after being pulled from the wreckage serves as an example of pro-life work. He doesn’t leave behind his fellow students who are trapped — nor should we turn from those in our lives who are suffering.
The transformation of the world starts when we allow the light of God’s love and mercy to shine through us as light through a windowpane. The weight of sin is burdensome and can become unbearable. Many think they are incapable of forgiveness or of being forgiven. Some think their plight cannot find resolution. Jesus lifts our burdens upon His shoulders and teaches us there is nothing to fear — He will always be there for us.
This article was originally published with “Spirit and Life”, the e-Column for Human Life International.
Fr. Shenan J. Boquet