Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…
The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith and the need for the forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of everlasting Mercy.” In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, instituted to sanctify us.
The first reading tells us how the early Church grew every day because of the acts of mercy and sharing, the sacrificial agápe love practiced by the early Christians. In the second reading, St. Peter glorifies God, the Father of Jesus Christ, for showing us His mercy by granting Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension into Heaven to His Son, Jesus, thus giving us the assurance of our own resurrection. Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of Divine Mercy. The risen Lord gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins; “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”. Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith. On this divine Mercy Sunday I would like to share with you a beautiful story of St. Pope John Paul II.
Edith Zierer, a Holocaust survivor, recalls how Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II, carried her to safety after she fled a Nazi concentration camp when she was 13 years old. Polish-born Zierer was 13 when she ran away from the Nazi camp at Czestochowa in Poland after the Soviet army liberated it in January 1945, five months before World War II ended in Europe. She was heading towards her hometown in Poland to find her parents, who, she would later learn, had died in the Holocaust. Exhausted, she reached a train station and sat there for two days without food or water while people ignored her. “Suddenly, there he was,” Zierer said, referring to Wojtyla, the seminarian, in his priestly robe. “He brought me some tea and two pieces of bread with cheese and then carried me to a train carriage. He sat with me and put his cloak on me because it was freezing. We came to Krakow and then I ran away because people started to ask why a priest was walking with a Jewish girl.” After spending, a few years in orphanages in Poland and France, Zierer emigrated from Europe to British-mandated Palestine, where she later married and bore a son and daughter in what became Israel. She now has five grandchildren. She wrote to Wojtyla after he became Pope in 1979, saying she was the little girl he had saved at the train station in Poland decades ago. After a correspondence ensured, the Pontiff invited her to the Vatican in 1998. She last met him in 2000, when he visited Israel on a millennium pilgrimage and met several survivors at the VadVashem Holocaust museum. She said she and the Pope kept up their correspondence, writing mostly during Christmas and before birthdays. “I received a letter from him last year and I knew it was the last,” she said. “He included a picture from his private collection and his handwriting was very shaky. I wrote to thank him for the memory that never left.” Edith Zierer, 84, mourned the death of her former savior, and remembered the warm look in the seminarian Karol Wojtyla’s eyes in the railway station years ago and God’s mercy expressed in his actions. “He was a kindred spirit in the greatest sense — a man who could save a girl in such a state, freezing, starving and full of lice, and carry her to safety,” she told Reuters. “I would not have survived had it not been for him.”. Pope John Paul made mercy the core of his priesthood. He saw mercy as a light against darkness. And has the world known darker times than when the Nazis and Communists oppressed millions of people? On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, John Paul II, along with Pope John XXIII, was officially recognized as a Saint. It is no accident that Pope St. John Paul who was instrumental in spreading the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday was canonized on that Feast. Let us approach God for his divine mercy through the sacraments of confession and Eucharist and through our kindness let us share it with our family and friends.
God Bless You,