The Hebrew word Hesed

Readings: AA 4.32-35; 1 Jn. 5.1-6; Jn. 20.19-31

Divine Mercy Sunday. Thanks be to God for Divine Mercy which each person wants to receive when it comes to his/her Final Judgment. And thanks be to God for Sr. St. Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who died at Poland, in 1938, for her having received the messages of God's Divine Mercy.

By way of preface, I want to repeat what I have said before about Divine Mercy. The Hebrew word "mercy" possesses a much broader and deeper meaning than the English word "mercy". The Hebrew word Hesed means not just forgiveness, but also an all encompassing love which desires what is best for the other person. By way of analogy, we all know that after a child disobeys his/her parents, and repents of that misbehavior, the parent embraces the child, forgives the child, and wants the child to feel the affection and care of the parent for that child. The parent extends mercy in such a way that the child learns a lesson, and recognizes the parent's expectations for the child to be good and to do good. The loving parent wants to "challenge and encourage" the child. I hope you know or have known from personal experience a merciful adult, who extended to you some dimension of God's Hesed.

On a website dedicated to Sr. St. Faustina, I found various words of Jesus to Faustina. Ponder the depth of these words, and the mutual experience that can flow from the embrace that Jesus offers to each person: "I am more generous toward sinners than toward the just. It was for sinners' sake that I came down from heaven; it was for their sake that my blood was spilled. Let sinners not fear to approach me." (Diary, 1275) "Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beats of their hearts. My heart rejoices when sinners return to me." (Jesus to Faustina, Notebook VI, 1756)

On a similar website I searched for other quotations of Jesus to Faustina. This site provided about forty or fifty categories of collections of sayings. I opened the file words of Jesus through Faustina for priests. Jesus says to Faustina: "My daughter, speak to priests about the incomprehensible mercy of Mine. The flames of mercy are burning Me, clamoring to be spent. I want to keep pouring this mercy upon souls." Priests are urged to preach about Jesus' mercy. I went to another category; this was designated for busy people, since I view myself as a rather busy person. These are Jesus' words: "Busy people have time for everything, but they have no time to come to me for graces." (367) Having read that, I lay down my golf clubs, went to chapel and prayed before going out to golf!

Listen to words from St. Faustina herself about her prayer as she approached Jesus' Mercy. She writes: "O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into your Mercy and to be your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor." That is a powerful prayer. Can you bring to your prayer the same thoughts, words, and feelings that Faustina spoke in her prayer?

Everybody on the face of the earth has a gap in the center of his/her being. Everybody feels that he/she is missing something. None of us has it completely all together. This universal gap can be filled ultimately only by one experience: the experience of God. Everybody on earth is tempted to fill that gap with someone/something that is not of God. St. Augustine in the fifth century writes insightfully, "Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you." May I suggest that you fill the gap in the core of your being with God. A wonderful way to do that is to repeat the prayer of St. Faustina: "O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into your Mercy, and to be your living reflection."

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley