"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Divine Mercy Is Divine Tenderness

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ear Sisters and Brothers, there are three points to my sharing about the Divine Mercy Sunday. First point, there are two things that God usually does. God gives. He gives all things. All things come from God. And when God gives he does not limit it to the righteous people only. He gives to all just as he sends rain to both the good ones and the wicked. The second that God does is he takes. Job chapter 1 verse 21, says, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away." When we say God takes, it is not the common interpretation about Job who was given so many blessings at first only to be taken away from him afterward. No. There is something deeper to this second act of God which is not separate from His first act of giving. When God gives, which is unconditional, it means he will not take back what he has freely given away. What is given is given for all eternity regardless of one's actions. When we say God takes it means God endures, God suffers, God grieves, God aches. When he allowed Job to go through suffering when they emptied him of all his properties including his loved ones and his health, God suffered with Job, he endured the emptiness, and God entered Job's chaos. I think this is much more fitting and a much deeper understanding of the second action of God taking. I always tell my penitents, "The point of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is to receive all the more what God has already given first. That is the meaning of true forgiveness, to fore-give, means to give before, unconditionally, seventy times seven.

For the second point. I encourage you to ask the Risen Lord, "Lord show us your acts of giving and taking." Do not be afraid to do what the disciple Thomas did. His I-will-not-believe-unless-I-see type of getting to something worked for him, it maybe also for us. Throughout the liturgical year, God gives. First through the mystery of Jesus's incarnation. God has given us everything through his incarnation. Becoming like one of us. His nativity is a testament to his desire to be with us through and through. First through a family, Mary and Joseph is Jesus's way of sharing the basic and vital experience of growing up within the family. We can contemplate Jesus all we want but to have more of Jesus is to contemplate him together with his mother, father, relatives, and friends. When God gives he gives us his entire family, human and the divine family, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No one is left out. And that includes even those we do not like. We will all be together in heaven. What about the instrument that God used in taking, and enduring all suffering? That is the instrument of the cross. There is no suffering that God would say I cannot take it anymore. No. God always takes it up no matter how heavy the cross is. I like the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday that follows Easter Sunday because it is like a reminder about the act of God taking, enduring, suffering, bearing, and sacrificing. Today look to Jesus in his act of taking, this is the act that saves. Suffering is a saving act. A most powerful act. The Divine Mercy is pictured as Jesus projecting beams of light that flow forth from his Sacred Heart. The two sets of rays: one red and one white symbolize blood and water, as we have heard from the Second Reading, "This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood." These are the two acts of Jesus giving and forgiving, showering and washing.

We have been recipients in one way or another of somebody else's suffering, eg the suffering of our parents. If it were not for their suffering we would not be here right now. This is perfectly true with Jesus, which brings me to my final point, there is one person who also sacrificed so much for Jesus. That is Mary. In June 2020, Pope Francis added three titles to Mary in the Marian Litany: “Mater misericordiae,” “Mater spei,” and “Solacium migrantium,” which means, Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope, and Comfort of Migrants. I would like to focus on the first title Mother of Mercy. It is not a surprise to see Mary being like that because mercy springs forth from tenderness. The tender Mary strengthened the Lord when he was hanging on the cross. Pope Francis's favorite word is tenderness. I quote, "Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility." There is a Solemnity that we cannot skip celebrating even though it was bumped off because of the Holy Week. Tomorrow's Solemnity of the Annunciation tells us that there is a Mother of Mercy who sacrificed for all of us. Mary has always been by Jesus's side, giving and taking. This is very telling that God as a source of everything is the God of tenderness. Lord, grant us your compassion always through the tenderness that we give and take. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ