The Vatican

Mercy is caring for the wounds of others

After two years of private celebrations in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Divine Mercy Sunday was once again celebrated in the presence of the faithful in St. Peter's Basilica. A recurrence initiated by Pope Francis in the midst of the Jubilee of Mercy in 2016.

Giovanni Tridente-April 24, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
Pope Francis at the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pope Francis at the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. Photo:

"If we take upon ourselves the wounds of our neighbor and pour mercy into them, a new hope is reborn in us, which consoles in fatigue". In this way "we meet Jesus, who
Jesus, who from the eyes of those who are tested by life, looks at us with mercy and repeats to us: Peace be with you!". This is what Pope Francis said in his homily at the Mass of the Divine Mercy, on the second Sunday of Easter, which this year returned to St. Peter's Basilica with the presence of the faithful, after two years of private celebrations at the nearby Sanctuary of Santo Spirito in Sassia.

Commenting on the Gospel passage of the day, in which Jesus' "Peace be with you!" appears three times, the Pope suggested the "three actions of divine mercy in us" that follow from this account.

The first is a reaction of joy, which arises from having been freely forgiven in spite of our abandonment and denial. An enthusiasm that arises from having experienced once again the presence of the Risen One, succeeding in diverting our attention from ourselves. Hence the invitation: "Let us put the memory of God's embrace and caresses before the memory of our mistakes and falls. In this way we nourish joy. For nothing can remain as before for those who experience the joy of God".

A second reason for joy is that it must be shared with others, after having experienced it: "if we know firsthand what it means to be reborn, after an experience that seemed to have no way out, then it becomes necessary to share the bread of mercy with those around us. Let us feel called to this," Francis added. And again: "Let us ask ourselves: I, here where I live, in the family, at work, in my community, do I promote communion, am I an artisan of reconciliation? Do I commit myself to calm conflicts, to bring forgiveness where there is hatred, peace where there is rancor?"

Finally, there is the example of Thomas, which is something like "the story of every believer", in which it is common to witness a crisis of faith. The answer lies in the "test" of wounds, as happened between the disciple and Jesus. "Let us ask ourselves then if in this last time we have touched the wounds of someone suffering in body or in spirit; if we have brought peace to a wounded body or to a broken spirit; if we have spent a little time listening, accompanying and consoling." This is the secret, Pope Francis concluded, to feeling the Lord's peace in one's own life and the joy of having met him again.


The anniversary of the Divine Mercy was established, as we will recall, by St. John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, and refers to the cult of the Polish saint Sister Faustina Kowalska, who in her mystical visions had indications of how to paint the image of the merciful Jesus.

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of the revelation of that image, and it was Pope Francis himself who presided at a Holy Mass in Santo Spirito in Sassia - a church that Pope Wojtyla had dedicated to the devotion of the Divine Mercy and elevated to a Shrine in 1994 - in the presence of prisoners, doctors, nurses and refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

Mercy for war

Greeting the Polish faithful at last Wednesday's audience, the Pope recalled that "Christ teaches us that man not only experiences God's mercy, but is also called to show it to his neighbor". He then thanked the people from whom the service being celebrated today comes for their mercy "towards so many refugees from Ukraine, who have found in Poland open doors and generous hearts".

Another reference to the ongoing war and how to live it with a sense of mercy was made by Francis when he received a group of pilgrims in audience on Saturday, to whom he reminded them how God mourns the victims of an armed conflict that "is destroying all the peoples involved," the victors, the losers and those who superficially look at what is happening. We entrust to Mary, Mother of Mercy, all that is happening at this moment in the world.

Missionaries of Mercy

Mercy also refers to the so-called "Missionaries", those priests who have received the special mandate to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation even in difficult situations and "peripheries", both human and geographical. They too are the fruit of the Jubilee of Mercy, desired by the express wish of Pope Francis, and today there are 1040 of them in the world, according to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which animates their coordination.

These days they are meeting in Rome to reflect on their task as a "sign of welcome". They come from various countries of the world, from all continents, and there are also several priests from Ukraine for whom a special visa to leave the country has been obtained.

In addition to several workshops to share experiences and pastoral practices developed during the pandemic, they attended several talks, including one by the Preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa. They then participated in Holy Mass at St. Peter's this Sunday and will conclude the meeting tomorrow by attending an audience with Pope Francis.

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