St. Pope John Paul II picked the Second Sunday of Easter because it coincides beautifully with the Gospel reading of the Second Sunday of Easter which informs us the Risen Christ gave his Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit and then instructs them, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn. 20:23).
Inherent in the message of the resurrected Christ to his Apostles upon meeting them in the upper room is Divine Mercy. One of John Paul’s native Poles, Sr. Faustina Kowalska was a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and was said to be visited by the Risen Lord who told her to promote His Divine Mercy.
Undoubtedly, you have seen the picture of Divine Mercy. A picture which depicts the Resurrected Jesus who has two rays of light emanating from his heart, one red representing blood, and the other a lighter color representing water. At the bottom are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you”. She was told by Jesus to document the visions in her diary with the message, “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.” St. Faustina, a poorly educated Polish woman compiled a 600-page diary of the apparitions she received. Part of the message from the Lord was His desire for a Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for souls.
It has also been reported St. Faustina Kowalska also had an encounter with St. Therese of Lisieux and the encounter which shaped the message of the need to trust Jesus. Apparently, during a tough spot in her life, St. Faustina began a novena to St. Therese for help. On the fifth day of the novena, St. Therese advised St. Faustina to simply trust in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord is the central theme of Divine Mercy and is at the bottom of every picture of Divine Mercy.
From the Diary of St. Faustina, 699, Jesus said of Divine Mercy Sunday: “On that day, the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy. . .My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.”