“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Heaven! So greatly did God desire to draw us close to his heart for all eternity that he sent his only Son to die while we were still in our sins. Grace and mercy flooded the earth from the cross in a mighty second Deluge, that we who were dead might be filled with life: life eternal in heaven.
What we have just witnessed in the Easter triduum is all about heaven. The glory of heaven shining through it is what makes Easter so radiant. To say “newness of life” or to say “salvation” or to say “God’s love” is to say “heaven.” Here, all our dreams come true, beyond our wildest expectations.
Thanks be to God, we are bruised reeds he has not broken and we are smoldering wicks he has not quenched. Instead, he has run after us to heal us and make us whole. The father of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, has wanted to restore the beauty we squander, restore our inner peace and bring us happiness. All of that, too, is another way of saying “heaven.”
And all that grace and light converges on Divine Mercy Sunday, as the Church focuses on the open door to heaven that Our Lord’s death and resurrection have thrown open.
“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. The soul that will go to confession and receive holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flows are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity” (Jesus speaking in the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, 699).
“Let no soul fear to draw near to me.” Isn’t that a poignant reminder of what John Paul II’s winsome, globetrotting, expansive pontificate was really about? The iconic words with which his pontificate opened — “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ!” — echo this.
And the words with which Cardinal Ratzinger gave our final good-bye to him, at the end of his funeral homily, seem even more relevant: “We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church will finally solemnly acknowledge that Karol Wojtyla is in fact in heaven, enjoying the blessed presence of God forever, overwhelmed by God’s mercy in newness of life, blessing us from above.
Divine Mercy changed his life. May it change ours too.