Christ Is Alive: Divine Mercy Sunday – Fr. Derry Murphy

It is Easter Week as I write, here in Ireland Easter weekend was beautiful, there was a mini heat-wave which meant sunshine, high temperatures and beautiful weather, it was great, and a change from the winter. Spring is now fully here and there is new life all around. Pope Francis chose “Christus vivit”, “Christ is alive” to open his latest Apostolic Exhortation, this is his conviction and because Christ is alive all his activity shows a certain urgency.
His recent meeting with political leaders from Sudan was striking, it was recorded on somebody’s phone and I received a copy. He addressed them with conviction and his exhortations were simple and rung with truth, urging them to be persons of peace, of unity, statespersons capable of building up society in Sudan. Then the gesture of the Pope kneeling and kissing their feet, it was ‘shocking’, he knelt down and the effort and the fatigue were audible, and his murmured ‘permitemi (please allow me)’ as one of them showed resistance. Watching the clip I felt very uncomfortable, it was almost too much to watch, but watch it I did. This is our Pope, our Holy Father, our spiritual leader, and because he knows that ‘Christus vivit’ he does what he does and says what he says with conviction.
This Sunday 28 April we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast established by Pope Saint John Paul II after Easter in 2000; he wanted the entire Church to focus on this central truth of our Faith, God is Mercy. Some of us have a strong commitment to the Divine Mercy chaplet and devotions; others of us are moved by personal awareness of God’s mercy in life; and, still others by expressive writings on this most divine of all God’s attributes. With the Church we celebrate the Mercy of God this Sunday, that our God is moved to feel with and for us. And as we celebrate we are reminded that mercy, in our lived experience, is often underserved and always a free gift, and so we extend mercy to others and pass on the mercy we ourselves have received, as the hymn expresses it “freely, freely, you have received, freely, freely give, go in my Name and because you believe others will know that I live.”
I read an article by Fr Kevin O’Gorman recently on “The priest as a man of mercy”, and he writes of 4 moments in life and in ministry not only of priests but of all believers in which Mercy is at work. For ease of memory the 4 words all start with the letter ‘a’: accompaniment, attentiveness, annunciation, apostolate. The implications of each one are to be worked out, and it seems to me that Pope Francis seems to be living and doing all four in his service of our Church and world, and so could write “the way of the Church … is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart.” (Amoris Laetitia 296).