Whenever we hear of Our Lord or the Blessed Virgin Mary speaking to someone, it's never those who are in high position. It's never the brilliant theologian who can teach on any subject under the sun. Nor is it the bishop who is held in high regard because of his position within the Church. No, those who have received the grace of legitimate private revelation from Our Lord are without exception those who are very humble.
The feast we're celebrating today came from one such revelation. During the 1930's, Our Lord revealed to Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, what we have come to know as the Divine Mercy. St. Faustina, canonized in the year 2000, came from a very humble background, and had received very little education. For this reason, she didn't hold a lofty position within her convent, but spent her time as cook and gardener. It was to this humble religious sister that Our Lord chose to express the depth of His Divine Mercy.
Out of these revelations have come two devotions which I think many Catholics are familiar with. First is the image of Divine Mercy, a painting of Jesus with one hand touching His heart and the other raised in a blessing. From His heart are two rays, one red and the other white. In her diary, St. Faustina writes that Jesus explained that “the pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous.” These waters are the waters of baptism, by which all of us have entered into the merciful embrace of the Church. Our Lord continues to explain that “The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.” We receive this Blood when we receive the Eucharist. By this explanation, Our Lord shows us that we receive His Divine Mercy through our baptism and reception of the Blessed Sacrament in the Eucharist. (thedivinemercy.org)
The other devotion that many are familiar with, especially since many parishes have regular opportunities for communal recitation of this prayer, is the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Through this Chaplet, we extend the offering of the Eucharist, the offering of Our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in intercession for the whole world. It's a very simple devotion, prayed using a Rosary, but has great power. Our Lord promised that those who “recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death.” Likewise, Our Lord promised that he will intercede on the behalf of someone who is dying if we pray the Chaplet in their presence. This is a devotion which all Catholics should be encouraged to pray on a regular basis. It is especially encouraged to be prayed at 3:00 PM, the “Hour of Great Mercy” during which Our Lord died on the Cross. (thedivinemercy.org)
This promise of Divine Mercy by Our Lord is not just mercy for us at the hour of our deaths, but is also an admonition to extend that mercy to others through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. As Jesus tells the disciples in today's Gospel passage, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21) Our Lord was sent to earth to bring the mercy of God to His people, and He now sends us to do the same. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the Corporal Works of Mercy as “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.” Likewise, the Spiritual Works of Mercy are instructing, advising, consoling, comforting [...] forgiving, and bearing wrongs patiently.” Of course, prayer for the living and the dead is a vital Spiritual Work of Mercy. (CCC 2447) Through these works of mercy, we share with our neighbors the mercy which Our Lord has given to us. Our Lord sums this up by giving us three ways of practicing mercy to our neighbor: by deed, by word, and by prayer.
Lest we think we can get away without these works of mercy, He warns us that if we do not share His mercy, we will not receive that mercy on the day of judgment. This is a very stern warning by Our Lord, and one that we need to pay close attention. To repeat Our Lord's words, “If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment.” (thedivinemercy.org)
On this feast of Divine Mercy, may we allow His mercy to come upon us and allow us to be sent as He sent His disciples.