The tenderness of God

By Bishop David Ricken

Since becoming pope, Francis has been so impressive in his outreach to many people in just a few weeks and his messages have been about the great love and mercy our Lord Jesus has for us. In his recent homily at St. John Lateran Basilica, the diocesan church of the Diocese of Rome, he reiterated this truth about the great patience God has for us to return to him. Citing the example of the forgiving father from the Gospels, he highlights the patience of the father in waiting for his prodigal son to return home.

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Bishop Ricken

He also mentions the “tenderness of God” in dealing with us sinners when we return to him. This tenderness is certainly amply on display in the wonderful Sunday liturgy we celebrated this past Sunday, now called Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy devotion was begun through the example of a little, uneducated Polish nun, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, who was a contemporary of Pope John Paul II. Before World War II, she started receiving visits from Jesus who appeared to her with great love and affection pouring forth from his heart, especially for sinners and for those about to lose their souls as they approached their time of death.

She describes in her diary the great love Jesus has for all people, especially those whose hearts have become hardened due to the hardships and vicissitudes of life. She is eager to point out over and over that God has oceans of mercy available to those who but ask in humility for this gift.

This is the great tenderness of God! They will receive this great gift of mercy which Jesus Christ is desperate to give. There will come a time when this mercy will not be so abundantly available and so now is the time to petition in your prayers the great gift of God’s mercy. These apparitions and this diary have been approved by the church and can be obtained online or in most any Catholic bookstore in your area.

Pope John Paul II was able to approve Sr. Faustina’s work and to declare her a saint of the church during his pontificate. With John Paul’s canonization not very far away, two little neighboring villages in Poland will have produced two great saints of the last century, St. Faustina Kowalska and, God willing, St. John Paul II. My brother, Mark Ricken, has become a real devotee and promoter of St. Faustina and Divine Mercy devotion. It is such a privilege to see my older brother, who was always such a good man, now take to his faith in a very dynamic way because of the impetus of graces he has received from St. Faustina. May divine mercy, which is the tender love of Jesus given by the power of the Holy Spirit, touch many of our readers of The Compass, parishioners of this diocese and anyone who may come into contact with this great call to prayer and holiness through the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever! Amen!