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Divine Mercy 101: Elements of the Devotion

The Image of The Divine Mercy (Part Four)

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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Dec 15, 2006)
(6) A Call to Be Merciful

The "trust" that Jesus asks for in the Image is not a passive thing. It is an attitude of total surrender to God that is, perhaps, best understood as an "entrustment" of our whole lives to Him. This involves allowing Him to "take charge" and direct every aspect of our lives, for our good and for His glory — and this involves surrendering to Him our stubborn self-will and all our actions. Thus, if we have not allowed Christ to take charge of our will and our deeds, if we are not obeying His commandments to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves (Mt 22:34-40), then we have a much too narrow notion of what "trust" in Jesus really means. We are probably treating it as a mere "feeling," or merely as an act of piety, rather than as a total dedication of our lives to Christ.

To receive Christ's merciful love entails the responsibility to be merciful to others. It is to let His Mercy so take charge of our will and our lives that His Mercy is able to flow through us to our neighbors in need. As Jesus said to Faustina (Diary entry 742):

I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of
love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere.


All this is but an echo of Our Lord's words in the gospels, where he said "this new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you (Jn 13:34), and again, "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36).

The Image of The Divine Mercy, therefore, does not invite us to a kind of "trust" that is merely passive resignation to the hardships of life. On the contrary, the Image is a call and a challenge to entrust our whole lives to His love — including our will and our deeds — in active service of His Kingdom of Mercy.

As Jesus said to St. Faustina (Diary entry 742):

By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.

(7) The Secret of the Image

The Image of The Divine Mercy was not meant to be merely a theological curiosity. It was meant to be used: in churches, chapels, and oratories, in family rooms, on bookmarks, and on the dashboards of cars. Wherever His people live and struggle for faith and love, Christ Jesus invites us to draw near to Him through this holy image. He gave it to us as a true "sacramental," a channel of graces flowing from the Merciful Heart of Jesus. By gazing upon it, our hearts can be opened to His presence and power.

The potential impact of such a sacred image upon the human soul is hard to define. One cannot exhaust the meaning and power of holy pictures in mere words. That is why we commonly say, even of secular images, that "a picture is worth a thousand words." For the same reason, our Lord inspires the creation of sacred art: because a true and holy image can penetrate our hearts much more deeply than mere words could ever do. An authentic holy image communicates more than just a doctrinal message; through it we encounter the divine presence, and it awakens our deepest longings.

Perhaps this is the secret behind the worldwide popularity and attractive power of the Image of The Divine Mercy. The fact is that, deep down inside, at the very center of the human soul, all people long for the same thing. We all long to see Jesus. In our heart of hearts we want to see Him face to face, to return His loving gaze upon us, and to adore Him forever and ever. It is the deepest love-secret of our hearts: this restless yearning to be with Jesus. Saint Augustine touched upon this longing when he wrote perhaps his most famous words: "You made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts will never find rest until they rest in You."1 The desire to see the Lord finds an echo in the Old Testament, where the Psalmist frequently prays that "the light of His countenance" may shine upon us. Saint Paul rejoiced that in Jesus, the divine Word made flesh, we see the Lord's countenance shining more clearly than ever (2 Cor 4:6):

For the same God who said, "Out of darkness, let light shine," has caused His light to shine within us, to give knowledge of the revelation of the glory of God, shinning in the face of Jesus Christ.



This is our heart's longing: to see Him face to face, to look into His deep and wise and tender eyes and know that we are loved, forgiven, and blessed with Him for all eternity — immersed, surrounded, and embraced by the light of His glory. Truly, that is the underlying secret of the attractive power of the Image of The Divine Mercy: it has enabled countless souls, in joy and in sorrow, to see the glorious and merciful Jesus, and to receive the graces of His mercy. As such, it is a foretaste of heaven, a first light of dawn.

May this incredible image be so for each one of us; may it unlock for us too the secret of our heart's desire, that we may see the merciful Jesus now, through this image, and in the world to come, behold the light of His countenance, face to face, forever and ever.


Footnotes
1 St. Augustine, Confessions, Book I, opening prayer.

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