VATICAN CITY, APR. 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Divine Mercy is the answer to the expectations of all people, whether believers or nonbelievers, John Paul II said Sunday, on the first anniversary of Sister Faustina Kowalska's canonization.
"Divine Mercy! This is the paschal gift the Church receives from the risen Christ, which he offers to humanity at the dawn of the third millennium," the Pope explained in his homily, during the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square.
Since last year, by express direction of the Holy Father, the Catholic Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday on the second Sunday after Easter.
The messenger of Divine Mercy was a Polish nun who died at age 33, in 1938. She lived in a convent for 13 years, carrying out menial tasks as cook, gardener and porter. In that setting, she lived an intense interior life, marked by visions, revelations and hidden stigmata. Her mystical experience was centered on consecration to the Divine Mercy and the phrase: "Jesus, I trust in you."
Sister Faustina inspired the apostles of Divine Mercy, a movement embracing priests, religious and laity, united by the commitment to be merciful in their relations with their brothers, to make the mystery of Divine Mercy known, and to invoke the mercy of God on men.
This spiritual family, approved by the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1996, has spread to 30 countries. Sister Faustina was canonized by John Paul II last April 30.
On Sunday, the Bishop of Rome repeated the words Jesus said to his disciples after his Resurrection: "Do not be afraid!"
Christ, "who implores pardon for his executioners and opens wide the doors of heaven to repentant sinners," is a reason for hope not only for believers, but also for nonbelievers, the Pope said.
"In Christ, humiliated and suffering, believers and nonbelievers can admire an amazing solidarity, which unites him to our human condition beyond every measure imaginable," he added.
Jesus' love, which in the resurrection shows itself stronger than sin and death, "is revealed and lived as mercy in our daily life and appeals to every man to be 'merciful' for the sake of the Crucified," John Paul II said.
"Is not this, perhaps, the program of life of every baptized [person] and of the whole Church: to love God and one's neighbor, including one's enemies, following Jesus' example?" he asked.
Because of this, the canonization of Faustina Kowalska, "witness and messenger of the Lord's merciful love, does not just represent a gift for Poland, but for the whole of humanity," the Pontiff explained.
"In fact, the message of which she was bearer, is an appropriate and incisive answer that God has willed to give to the questions and expectations of the men of our time, marked by enormous tragedies. One day, Jesus said to Faustina: 'Humanity will not find peace until it entrusts itself with confidence to Divine Mercy,'" the Holy Father concluded.