In the final years of his pontificate when Pope John Paul was so publically diminished before the eyes of the world. As the years took their toll and his physical frailty took over, his mind and teaching turned to the mercy of Christ.
And his pontificate culminated in one of his final acts which he described as the happiest of his life when he proclaimed the Divine Mercy of the Heart of Christ and declared the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Following in his footsteps Pope Francis has declare next Year of Mercy.
Central to the devotion of the Divine Mercy is the testimony we find in St John’s Gospel. When on the cross from the crucified body of our saviour there flows out water and blood when the soldier pierces his heart with a lance; symbols of salvation and the infinite mercy of God. Because it is from a broken pierced and bruised heart that Jesus pours his love and mercy on the world.
In the Gospel today the disciple’s terror is only abated when they recognize Jesus in his wounds. Jesus shows them his hands and side and only then do they truly recognize it is he. The wounds of Christ remain in his gloried and risen body because they are the marks of his love. They tell us how much God loves us. It is a love that will pay any price the give at any cost to last drop of blood and from the depth of his heart.
Only in the heart of our saviour do we find salvation was the final message of Pope John Paul. Despite every physical setback and suffering he himself bore in his final years still he spoke of the mercy and love of Christ. And he pointed to the response we should make at every moment of lives; in every moment of fear and uncertainty, of pain and loss, of doubt and setback. To all of these we entrust ourselves to the heart of Christ from which all mercy and love flows.