The greater the sinner

posted in: John Fee, The U.P. Catholic | 0

Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated in the Catholic Church today, the first Sunday after Easter. Recently A book I’ve been reading about Divine Mercy prompted me to write about it in my Feb. 22, 2013 regular “Here Am I” column in The U.P. Catholic.

The greater the sinner

“Here Am I” column by John Fee

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy.” (The Diary of Saint Faustina – 723)

These simple, deep and challenging words were spoken by Jesus to a Polish nun in a series of private revelations between 1931 and her death in 1938. This sentence spoke volumes to me late one night recently, while sitting alone and reading “Revelations of Divine Mercy – Daily Readings from the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska” by Father George W. Kosicki, C.S.B. (ISBN 978-0-89283-977-3). Even though they weren’t new to me, they were so strong that I took a photo of them with my phone to remember the moment.

If you’re thinking, “Why should I listen to a private revelation given to this nun?” Consider this, the Sunday following Easter has been declared Divine Mercy Sunday by the Church and Blessed Pope John Paul II, based on these revelations.

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy.”

It doesn’t take a theologian to get this message. If you think you’re a great sinner, or even the greatest sinner, Jesus said you have a greater (or the greatest) right to his mercy. That’s how I read this.

However, I also read more. For instance, when I’m at my most sinful, then I have a greater responsibility to reach out to Jesus and ask his forgiveness. Allowing pride or cowardice to face my sins keep me away from confession is just another slap in Jesus’ face.

Reflecting on this further, I find another challenge in these few words. If Jesus gives a greater right for mercy to a greater sinner, how am I to respond to those who “sin against” me?

If there was a time when mercy was needed, it’s now. Look at the language we use about our fellow man. Our so-called national news outlets editorialize and demonize those that don’t walk the politically correct line. We consumers of this infotainment (information as entertainment) use the same language, turning our neighbors into “those people.” We dehumanize others, or make them great sinners in our minds, rather than reaching out to them with love and mercy. Facebook, Twitter and other social media make it all too easy to say things we would never say to anyone face-to-face, to forget there’s a real human being reading our unkind words.

The level of vitriol can reach new heights, or rather lows, when it comes to issues such as abortion.  Personally, I don’t think the scourge of abortion will be removed from our land through political maneuvering. It will take the winning of hearts and souls through prayer, through education, but mostly through mercy to those that are victims of this horrible lie in the name of choice (including the mothers and fathers of aborted children).

This Lenten season, I know I personally need to seek the infinite Divine Mercy of Jesus, and I pray for the grace to share that mercy with others.

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy.”

(Note: The U.P. Catholic is the diocesan newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula)