29 July 2017 – Day Four

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The garments in which Pope John Paul was shot, 29 July 2016

Day 4 of reflecting on the memories of World Youth Day:

On this day one year ago, I visited all the pillars of mercy Poland had to offer: The John Paul II Sanctuary (where his 1st class relics and the vestments he was wearing when he was shot rest), the Divine Mercy Sanctuary (where St. Faustina is laid), and the chapel in which our Lord visited St. Faustina. (I also got to see the Pope, but that’s not important here.) These were such powerful places to visit; God’s infinite mercy could be felt in each of these small places–well, I suppose relatively because the Divine Mercy Sanctuary was anything but small.

Today also happens to be the feast of St. Martha, the sister of Mary Magdalene. When I went to Mass today, Father talked about which story the two sisters are known best: The one in which the two invite Jesus into their home, and Mary sat with him while Martha was busy in the kitchen. He continued by saying that, in this story, the two sisters represent the dual nature of the Christian: On the one hand, the Christian must listen and reflect on the words of Jesus; on the other, the Christian must also go do the work of love (after all, Martha would only have gone through that much trouble if she loved Jesus).

While I’ve never thought about this before, this is totally in line with what St. Paul wrote: “God is the one, who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” (Philippians 2:13) In St. Mary Magdalene, we see the aspect of desire and, in St. Martha, work. And I think this is true of divine mercy since, as we pray in the Divine Mercy Chaplet, God’s will is “love and mercy itself.” We as children of God not only desire His mercy, but we’re supposed to open the hearts of others to realize that they, too, desire such mercy; we’re not supposed to just bask in that mercy, but we’re supposed to bring it to the masses.

When I visited the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, I had a thought that I’m sure some of my peers would if they saw it: Why is it necessary to build such a tall spire? Could not that money go into a church charity, instead? Reflecting on it now, however, I realize that there is so much symbolism in that construction: Often, much like my confusion with the spending, we don’t understand why God is so merciful to us–or, rather, some of us–and, probably more often, why we are given so much of it. Yet, it’s so large, so enveloping, that there’s so much room: There were hundreds of us in that sanctuary, but there was still room for more–of which people coming in late for Mass definitely took advantage! And the Mass was so beautiful: It was multi-lingual (I believe it was in English, Polish, and German), and there was such an awe-inspiring diversity! It was definitely a sight I wish other people could have seen!

And yet, God’s love and mercy is still even greater than this giant sanctuary, still greater than that diverse gathering, still greater than the space remaining despite the flow of late-comers. It is the reason why there were dozens of confessionals on that yard, the reason why we were able to gather for WYD, the reason why we are able to celebrate in the Mass. This reason–the inexhaustible love and mercy of God–is the good news we want to listen to just like Mary did; this reason–the inexhaustible love and mercy of God–is the good news we must struggle to work to feed others with just like Martha did.

Thus, my prayer today is that I hope that we struggle with our task; it’s definitely not an easy one. I hope that we complain to the Lord about how tough it is; after all, Martha did to our Lord. But I pray that we continue to persevere because, like Martha, we as Christians profess that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.” (John 11:27). May God continue to shower you all with this well-spring of love and mercy.

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