Photo: Felix Carroll
Open Your Hearts to Jesus
As I travel all over the world speaking to people on the message of Divine Mercy and the difficulties of my own spiritual journey, it has become obvious to me that many people understand the devotional aspects of the Divine Mercy message; many know about the Chaplet or the Image or the Feast Day, but fewer know how to integrate the message into their daily lives by taking the needed steps in the conversion process to bring them closer to Jesus, The Divine Mercy, and His Merciful Mother.
Our ministry, Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), emphasizes and promotes the concept that the Divine Mercy message is more than a devotion; it is a Way of Life. While it is important and appropriate to venerate the image of the Merciful Savior and to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily, if these actions do not lead us to a deeper trust in God, a greater ability to forgive those who have hurt us, and to a stronger desire to be merciful to others, then the devotional aspects have done little to bring us closer to Jesus.
We want everyone to realize that this is a message to be lived! And, as you know, the message of the Lord is all about love. I have come to know and believe in a deeper way what is written in 1 Jn 4:16: "So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
God is love. When we look at the world crises, we see people killing each other in the name of God! And we do the same. We kill with our tongue, our arrogance, our pride, jealousy, and lack of forgiveness.
It is all about love!
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1Cor 13:1).
It is more important to love than it is to worry about all the "rules and regulations" of being a Christian. And the greatest attribute of God is His mercy. We will never understand or comprehend it. But, we are to let that mercy radiate to us and through us and out to a hurting world. We are to be icons and vessels of mercy and the light of the world. So, let's get going — we have a lot of darkness in the world!
Last week, I heard a story about a couple who go to Mass weekly and consider themselves devout Catholics. They have been estranged from their son and his wife for several years for no good reason and have rejected the son's efforts at reconciliation. Recently, the son called to wish them a merry Christmas, and they told him that he was dead as far as they were concerned. How could a father and mother reject their son?
Ghandi once said that he never converted to Christianity because he never saw anyone practicing it; when I read that I felt like my heart had been pierced with a sword.
In Ezekiel, it is written, "I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek 36:26). What does this mean? It means we need to be filled with joy and the love of God! We need to forgive those who have hurt us, place our trust in God, and be vessels of mercy to a hurting world.
I hear from so many people that they are not speaking to family members because of disagreements over the family inheritance, favoritism, or arguments that happened years ago. We all pray the Our Father, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," and yet we refuse to forgive!
Recently, we had our annual EADM Christmas party in our home. My elderly parents attended; I knew that the socialization would be good for them. It was an ordeal getting them there, since mom has Alzheimer's disease and getting her in and out of the van was a bit difficult. At the end of the party, I noticed Becky staring at my mother as we loaded mom into the van. Shortly thereafter, Becky broke down and sobbed. You see, her mother was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She looked at my mom and wondered what the future would be like for her mother.
And her husband responded with great wisdom when he told her, "All we can do is trust. We will take one day at a time and place our trust in God."
Trust in God does not mean that we believe that our crosses will be lighter because we trust; no, it is the acceptance of life's trials and trust in God that gives us the strength to persevere and carry on. We must allow trust to be an active verb. We must live it and act upon it.
Jesus asked that the Divine Mercy Image be signed with the words, "Jesus I Trust in You." This Christmas season, let us turn our bruised and scarred hearts over to Our Lord. He is the Great Physician. He can turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. And let us be filled with the love of God, and in turn love each other. And may the baby Jesus be born in your heart this Christmas season, and may you radiate His love and mercy to your family and friends.