God’s Divine Mercy – Lent 2024


The reality of God’s merciful nature can be difficult for us to grasp. Though we might tend to feel like we need to earn His love, the truth is that we should expose even the most scarred and broken places in our lives before His mercy.

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Reflective Study Guide Questions

“[W]here sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,”

Rom. 5:20

1. It can be very difficult for us to understand what God is actually like. We might be tempted to try to craft a mental image of God in the way we think He should be. Do you ever find yourself thinking of God like this? How can you work on trying to view God as He truly is?

2. God continues to hold all of creation in existence at every moment. He continues to hold us in existence at every moment. How might reflecting on this truth influence your relationship with God?

3. We often have trouble grasping the reality that we are sinners and God loves us anyway. Do you ever struggle with feeling like you must earn God’s love? How can you work on embracing the truth that He gives His love without our earning it?

4.  In our littleness and our poverty, we can come before God. We do not have to hide those places that are most broken but should instead bring those places before His mercy. What areas of your life might you most need to expose to His mercy?

Text: God’s Divine Mercy

Hi, this is Tim Glemkowski, and it’s an honor to be praying along with you on this Pray More Lenten retreat.  for my final talk, I want to focus on this concept of mercy. You know, so it’s one of these big topics when these big words that we hear all the time, we don’t always think about what it really means, but I think it’s incredibly important to go deep in our understanding of the, the idea of God’s mercy or, or even our own participation in that mercy, our encountering of that mercy. you know, partly because I, think it’s incredibly poignant today.

Recognizing God’s Mercy

You know, I think even the, experience of Lent now has been kind of characterized for a lot of us by this divine mercy in novena that starts Good Friday and ends, you know, the Lenten season then there, and, and begins the Easter season with this feast of divine mercy, the Sunday after Easter. And, and that was pointed right by John Paul II to mark this occasion where God’s mercy became powerfully present to humanity in such an incredible way in the resurrection, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to market by a feast announcing to the world, especially, you know, coming on the heels of so many of the horrors of the century, that, that he encountered so personally in his own life and, and in a particular way reflected through the you know, revelation of, of God’s mercy in a particular way. And the message of that to sister now, Saint Faustina Kowalska, right?

And so this concept even in our continued, in the 21st century where so many of the, so much of the brokenness of the world is still so apparent, and even, you know, made just more apparent. I think it’s really critical for us to understand deeply as Christians, as Catholics, what God’s mercy is and, and why it’s so essential. You know, the, the catechism of the Catholic Church, says this, “the gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners,” right? So this foundational message, the proclamation that the entire church has rallied around the entire gospel message, which is sort of the core of, of who we are as Catholics, is the revelation, the revealing in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners, right?

The Image of God

So what does that mean? we talk about this idea that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. That what he’s come to do, and he says this all the time, like I’ve come to show you the Father, what he means by that is it’s very hard for us in our humanity to actually understand what God’s like. we invent these images, right? You can look at the, the history of world religions and see all the various images that are invented of God, throughout human history, right? Even multiple gods, and still, even as Christians, our temptation can be to craft God in our own image, to make an idol of whatever fear we might have of God and what he might be like or whatever we think God should be to kind of craft him in our own image. And so what Jesus is trying to do is to accomplish our rescue from sin and death and to show us who the father actually is, what he’s like. And, and the place he does that most perfectly is the cross.

One of the things the cross is supposed to do is to be an enduring image of who God is. The answer, the mysterious answer of, of the Father to all h an suffering, to all human pain, to all human sin, , is ultimately to take it all into himself, and to be nailed to a cross with it, right? And, and the reality there, right, is Jesus, in his perfect knowledge and in his perfect wisdom, when he was on the cross, would’ve seen and anticipated every sin you or I would’ve ever committed, right? and for Jesus, the cross was not just something done to him, but something he took on willingly. He says in John chapter 12, “no one takes my life from me willingly. Do I lay it down and willingly do I take it up again”

So this is  an all-powerful God who chooses to remain on the cross with full awareness of every sin, humanity would ever do right? In all of human history. You think of the horrible things that are done that have been done in world history and the horrible things that each of us continue to do every day when we choose to turn away from love of God and neighbor and turn towards self. Jesus saw all of it, every failure of every friend of his, of every follower, of his and, chose to stay on the cross, right? In the same way you might have heard it said sometimes like God chooses to create us every second of every day because he is the ground of all being. Our our creation is not something that’s just done in like a moment, and then we sort of like exist in the world needs us, but God holds all of creation in existence by being the ground of all beings. So it means like he’s constantly recreation. It’s good, it’s good, it’s good. In the same way on the cross, Jesus chose to stay there. No one takes my life from me, willingly do I, do I lay it down and willingly do I take it up again? So he’s looking at all these sins of all humanity saying, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, right? I’m going to stay here.

And so anytime you might be tempted, or I might be tempted to think anything we’ve done has put our, ourselves outside of the love of God in some way, we need to remember that fact, right? He knew then what you and I were going to do and he chose to stay there, right? So this is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners. This is who God is.

Looking At Mercy

We struggle though sometimes I think as more engaged Catholics. I’m guessing if you’re joining this retreat, you’re like relatively devout because I think we sometimes think of God’s mercy can feel like a fluffy topic to us. Like it can feel like to focus on God’s mercy. Might be we, or we maybe have heard or seen Christians who do this, like they kind of downplay sin. What they mean is you know, like basically God doesn’t really care what we do and because he’s just good. And, you know, I can kind of live my life however I want, and as long as I have a Bible verse in my Instagram account, like I’m good, you know, and, and I’ve chosen Jesus, right? We know that’s not right.

Or I think some people actually avoid the concept of mercy because they think it has too much of a focus on sin, right? Like to focus on something like the sacrament of confession or reconciliation, or to say God is merciful. It’s like, well, you know, we don’t really want to focus too much on, on our failures or something. We have this kind of, this moralistic, the, the therapeutic deism where it’s like God’s just kind of this good God who you know, is just kind of watching over us and, and kind of benignly pleasantly, you know, peaceful with everything we’ve done. And so we don’t need to focus too much on mercy. because that would mean we actually need to ask for forgiveness from something. and I think there is an instinct there because we know that that’s not wrong.

How We See God’s Love

Those are wrong responses to it, but the instinct is right to say, we recognize that in God extending his mercy to us, that sin is a relevant concept to that, that God’s mercy, is sort of a, response to our sin, like God’s mercy is, is his love extended towards sinfulness? Sinfulness is that which we do right? An offense against h an reason and against human nature that makes it so that God’s love is not ours, injustice that we don’t like deserve God’s love or we haven’t earned it right, because of our own perfection. but, rather when his love turns toward ugliness, this is kind of a temptation. I guess why I’m highlighting this is I think this is a temptation we’d like to do with God’s love. We’re used to in life earning people’s love something we do very often. And so we often apply that to God where it’s like, what I want to do is I want to strive really hard this lend, I’m going to work really hard and I’m going to be really disciplined. And what that’s going to make me, make me as worthy of the love of God. I think in reality, if we’re going to be actually able to experience God as he is the revelation, in in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners, we’re going to have to get comfortable with the reality that we are sinners. And in that sinfulness, God still loves us and delights in us, and is purifying us in the midst of it. It was while we were still sinners, that Jesus Christ died for us.

And until we could have the humility to get comfortable there, when you look at the saints, this is how they experience themselves and God, right? It’s without any self-loathing. St. Francis is able to say, toward the end of his life, I, I’m the most horrible of sinners. He means that he means he’s fully aware. but even in the midst of that awareness, completely confident that God is still with him, that God still loves him, and that God is still at work in his life to continue to purify and per and perfect him, right? This is comfort with the mercy of God. We shouldn’t feel awkward with the idea of needing God’s mercy. that’s who he is, right? It’s the revelation of his nature, his love applied to us in mercy.

What Does Mercy Do?

So what does, what does mercy do? Right? What does mercy accomplish in the world as God’s love is poured out even into the places that are not deserving of it? What does it accomplish or do? Mercy is the love of God and its power to heal, right? It is the solvent or God’s response to sin. Because what sin does is it hurts us in our nature, but it also hurts the world, right? So it wounds whatever it touches when we turn away from love, it has a lasting effect and impact on our nature. and it breaks something in us. but it also breaks things in the world. It creates patterns and habits of sin in our own lives and in humanity, right? And so the mercy of God, what it’s supposed to do is to expand the zone of freedom, the revelation of the sons and daughters of God throughout all of humanity, right?

Jesus puts it this way, or Saint Paul puts it this way, where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more, right? So the, the, the, the shocking sort of inversion of our logic is that where we think God would be repelled by brokenness or repelled by sin, what he instead wants to do is send the power of his love there, right? The, the, the, the healthy don’t need a physician, right? God is especially drawn by brokenness. He’s impelled by it to rush in his, in his love and his mercy toward that place that is, that is ugliness. not to just leave it there or to just again, kind of benignly, like pat it on the head and say, you’re all doing fine and it’s great, don’t worry about it. but to heal, right, to invite transformation, to make it look more like what it was supposed to look like in the first place. This is what his mercy accomplishes in the world. and this is how we’re invited to participate in God’s mercy.

Looking At Mother Teresa’s Example

I think Mother Teresa is the perfect image of this. I think she was a, a woman who had experienced so much in her own life the love of God, even in the midst of her own poverty and in her own brokenness, she’d invited Jesus to come be her light enough in her own life that she was able to then extend that love to others, even in a place where it was not deserved where it wasn’t always going to create the greatest social impact. She would often bring people off the street, only for them to die minutes later after she had carried them into the missionaries of charity’s home, right? That’s not just like, you know, being an NGO. That’s the mercy of God being shown in the life of someone who has become the love of God so much and experienced it so deeply in her own heart and in her own life, that she’s able to extend it to others. That’s why we call them the spiritual or corporal works of mercy. It’s ways of allowing our action to imitate what God would do to respond to a particular situation, to counsel the ignorant, right where God would see brokenness, right, to visit the imprison. He would invite us to do the same. And so it’s my contention and it’s my conviction that to walk out into our own life, those spiritual and corporal works of mercy, is not just about creating activism as the core of the Christian life, or not just about sort of making the whole thing about, sort of what we do, but it’s charity. The life of love and the life of grace, becoming active in our lives because we have first encountered deeply in our own hearts how incredibly loved we are, even in the midst of our own sin, because we have received God’s love and his mercy. We’re able to love. We love St. John said in his letter because he first loved us.

What You Can Do This Lent

And so this lent, I think as we even take up these disciplines as we suffer well, in order to, to run the race well, let’s also remember that in our littleness and in our poverty, it’s those places in us that are most hurt, that are most broken, that we don’t have to hide from God, but that we can expose to him, and hold up to him as the places we need him the most. so that he can then send us, healed completely of all the wounds of sin that have we’ve encountered because of our own actions.

Because the actions of those against us that he can send us to be ourselves, wounded healers, to extend that love to every person, every time, and every place. This is the action in the dynamism, the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners. This is who God is. And so, our invitation to experience that and then to extend that, is powerfully present in this season of, of Lent.

And then as we celebrate the victory, of Easter in the Easter season through the Feast of Divine Mercy. So thanks so much for joining this retreat and I’ll continue to pray for you. God bless.

About Tim Glemkowski

Tim Glemkowski is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Eucharistic Congress. Previously, he served in the Archbishop’s Office for the Archdiocese of Denver as the Director of Strategy, helping to set up the archdiocese for a time of apostolic mission. He is the former founder and president of L’Alto Catholic Institute and Revive Parishes. Tim authored Made for Mission: Renewing Your Parish Culture, which was released in Fall 2019 through Our Sunday Visitor. He is an international speaker who has also consulted for many organizations, dioceses, and parishes. His writing has appeared in numerous print and web-based theological and catechetical publications. Tim and his wife, Maggie, live in Littleton, CO with their three young children.