April 27, 2014 will remain a red-letter day in the history of the world, the Church and our Salvation. For us here at St. Martin, it is the second Sunday of Easter in our centennial year. For the Universal Church it is the movable feasts of the second Sunday of Easter and of the Divine Mercy. Concurrently, the second Sunday of Easter is also the Divine Mercy Sunday. The date is going to be remembered for the dual canonization of the two of the most loved Popes, viz., Pope John XIII and Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II faced criticism for declaring the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Some termed it as a “Polish thing”. The criticism is unwarranted. I see an unbreakable connection, a bond so tight and an indelible commonality between Easter and the message of Divine Mercy. Both the Empty Tomb of Jesus and the message given by Jesus through St. Faustina have a common message, i.e., Evil Does Not Have The Last Word or God Is Not Outdone By Evil.

Devotion of Divine Mercy is the result of the series of apparitions Sr. Faustina Kowalska, a polish nun had had of Jesus. She entered into her diary all that Jesus told her. We get a clearer picture of the message if we look at it against the backdrop of World War II. It was to prepare the world for all the atrocities, massacre, destruction and selfishness that the terrible War ushered in. For the same reason the message spread in Europe like a wild fire. People embraced it wholeheartedly because they found it to be most consoling in the above context. What I want to say is that the Divine Mercy devotion is not a “Polish thing”. As Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict say in one voice, “Divine Mercy gets to the very core of the Sacred Scripture”. Hardly a day goes by without my praying the Divine Mercy.

It is so appropriate that Pope John Paul II is going to be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday. As a bishop, he took special interest in promoting and spreading the message of Jesus through St. Faustina after it was banned by Vatican. The ban was lifted after six months and what happened after that speaks for itself. After he became the pope, he dedicated his second encyclical, namely, Dives in Misericordia or Rich in Mercy, to Divine Mercy. In it he eloquently speaks about how important is God’s mercy to the modern world. Jesus told through Sr. Faustina that he wanted a feast instituted for Divine Mercy. Blessed John Paul II did it. He declared the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pope Francis in his inimitable style gives a strong message by canonizing Blessed John XIII along with Blessed John Paul II. He wouldn’t canonize any pope before canonizing Pope John XIII, as it were. History is in the making as well more than a million people are expected for the canonization ceremony not to mention the millions who will be glued to their TV. Blessed John XIII is the architect of and the inspiration behind Vatican II. By calling the Council the good Pope opened the windows of the Church for fresh air to come in. He opened the Church to the modern world. While he was a visionary, Pope John Paul II was a missionary. The latter took as his mission the vision of the former.

– Fr. Abe