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Living the Truth in Love - The Month of Mercy

The month of June has brought to Florida the heat for which our summers are so well known. The intense heat of the sun can become uncomfortable, but it can also be quite a solace. It is the warmth of the sun that brings people to our beaches, shores and the ocean sides. Many of us have experienced the warmth of the sun seeping into our bones after coming from an especially cold air-conditioned house or building.
Heat can be intense, and intensity is surely a mark of God’s infinite love. It is such intensity that underlines the famous canticle of praise found in the Book of Daniel (3:66): Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever.
June is also the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on Friday, June 16, the actual solemnity will occur. During this month, as we experience more the intensity of the heat which comes to us, it is well for us to reflect on the intensity of God’s love revealed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the symbol, above all, of divine mercy. St. Francis DeSales, who did much to cultivate devotion to the Sacred Heart, knew well its relationship to the intensity of heat. He wrote: “If we touch His Heart, we will find it completely inflamed and burning with incomparable love towards us.”
The mercy of God, as revealed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was also celebrated in a most vivid manner during the Easter season on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. Devotion to Divine Mercy was promoted by St. Faustina Kowalska, a 20th century Polish religious known as the apostle of Divine Mercy, who was canonized on April 30, 2000. On that occasion, Pope St. John Paul II declared her “a gift of God for our time.” 
St. Faustina, born in 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland, stood out at a very young age because of her love of prayer, work, obedience and sensitivity to the poor. Sister Mary Faustina entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Externally, nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. Living what seemed to be an ordinary life, she carried within herself an extraordinary union with God. She died at the young age of 33 as a result of tuberculosis, which she heroically accepted.
The years Sister Mary Faustina spent in the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts and graces, which she accepted as she faithfully carried out her daily tasks and religious rule of life. She is well known by the popular image of her visions depicting Jesus’ merciful love revealed in His Sacred Heart. Yet, what made Sister Mary Faustina a saint were not extraordinary visions but the knowledge of God’s merciful love. She knew that life lived by carrying out one’s vocation in faithfulness and with the knowledge of God’s love toward all are the key to sanctity and happiness.
 The Lord used St. Faustina as an apostle of Divine Mercy so that she could tell the world of the loving mercy of God. She reported in her diary that the Lord revealed to her, “In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to my people. Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful Heart!”
How fitting is the message of the Sacred Heart to our world. This consoling message is especially needed in our world today facing confusion, anger, lack of vision regarding the purpose of God in creating the world and a loss of the sense of God’s love. God’s merciful love, revealed in the Sacred Heart, touches all and reminds us that “God’s love was revealed in our midst in the way: He sent His only Son to the world so that we might have life through Him. Love consists in this: not that we have loved God but that He has loved us and has sent His Son as an offering for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
Mercy must be the key for all of us in understanding how much God loves each of us and how precious our lives are to him. We have not earned God’s love, but He fully bestows it on us. It is also mercy that is at the core of our relationship with each other, whether in our families, workplace and community or among strangers. Mercy is at the foundation of life.
As we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus during this month of June, it is fitting to experience the intensity of the sun’s heat and the Son’s love. The message of divine mercy, as revealed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is one about the value and dignity of every human person, made in the image and likeness of God, from the moment of conception until natural death. Christ gave His Heart for each of us. It is such mercy which must inspire us if we are to know our own dignity and defend the dignity of every person.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
June 16, 2023