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Summary: God's mercy comes first to us personally, and from there, we can show mercy to others. In fact, being merciful to ourselves may be crucial to our ability to be merciful to others.

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Divine Mercy Sunday

I saw a picture of a lady with a post-it note on her forehead that said, "Be merciful to yourself."

God's mercy comes first to us personally, and from there, we can show mercy to others. In fact, being merciful to ourselves may be crucial to our ability to be merciful to others.

e.g. Saint Francis de Sales wrote, "Be patient with all things, but most of all with yourself."

We often hold perfectionistic standards for ourselves and are harder on ourselves then others. A good technique to get out of this is to start thinking about how you would respond to a friend in your problematic situation. Typically, you would tell a friend, "It's not as bad as your think," or "It's serious, but you will get through it."

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and we know what the spiritual and corporal works of mercy are, and we try to practice them in our dealings with other people, but do we extend the same care to ourselves?

E.g. Feed the hungry. How have I concretely experienced God feeding me? Instruct the ignorant? How has God taught me? Admonish the Sinner? How has God shown me the way? Pope Francis said that “Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor [or any Christian]; it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.”

So, why is it so hard for us to forgive ourselves? God desires us to be released from our burdens so we may live fully human lives. God desires to lift us up, not beat us down. We need to work to show mercy to ourselves, as God desires for us.

Like Thomas in today’s Gospel, sometimes we cannot take things on the word of others, we must work through them in the light of our own experiences and those of the society in which we live. Sometimes these things are very personal. Difficult life experiences such as illness or failed relationships may lead to a loss of meaning or purpose in existence. This can cause us to not receive God's mercy.

We read today about Jesus giving the apostles the power to forgive sin, today on Divine Mercy Sunday, which restores us through the Sacrament of Confession. We all know what mercy looks like. It's knowing you are guilty but getting pardoned anyway. It's the mother who had caught you in a lie but forgives you. It's Jesus saying, "Your sins are forgiven....Go in peace." If we were to forget about God's mercy, the guilt and shame of our sins would weigh heavily on us even if our conscious mind can’t grasp that.

Notice that "Peace be with you" is repeated several times by Jesus because the disciples needed more assurance because of their unmentioned fear and doubt.

There are no strings attached to God's mercy for us.

Saint Faustina experienced that first-hand after she had received a glimpse of the suffering that lay ahead of her in spreading the Lord's message of mercy. God made Faustina understand that "the whole mystery depended on [her], on [her] free consent to the sacrifice," but that "even if [she] did not give [her] consent to this ... He would not lessen His graces, but would still continue to have the same intimate relationship with [her]" (Diary, 135).


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