Image

by Fr. John Harris

 

The Signature on the Image

Recently, in a church in Dublin, a lady recognised me from writing in this magazine. She shared with me her concern that in the church, there was an Image of Divine Mercy did not have the signature, “Jesus I trust in you”. Since then I have been thinking about how important the signature is to the entire Image. Without the signature, we lose the significance of the Image.

 

The Vision 

In her Diary, St. Faustina tells us that on 22nd February 1931, when she had the vision of the Image, Jesus said to her, “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘Jesus I trust in You’. I desire that this image be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world”. (Diary 47)

Not an Optional Extra

From this passage, it is clear that the signature is integral to the message of Divine Mercy. It is not simply an added extra. For Jesus shows us His love in the rays coming from His pierced side in order to encourage a response of trust from us. Without our response of trust, then the whole Devotion and Image is simply a nice story.

Why does He love us?
This is how many people nowadays look on their faith and belief in Jesus. They speak so easily of Jesus being love and loving, but rarely do they ask, “Why does He love us?” and “What does He want of us in return?”. People see the love of Jesus as a matter of accepting that love as if it means nothing to them. They say so easily, “Jesus loves me, He forgives me”, but nothing changes in their lives. Unless I respond to this love with love, it is only meaningless words. It is like a husband saying he loves his wife, but continues to have a mistress on the side. 

God loves us but He wants to be loved by us too

Pope Benedict XVI wrote, We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God, in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer, to be recited daily in the morning, says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!

I am particularly taken by the last sentence: “God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!” Jesus shows us His love in the Image of Divine Mercy because He wants us to love Him in return. We show this love by trusting in Him. If Jesus loved us but did not want us to love Him in return, then that would not be love. The very understanding of being in love means that you want the one you love to love you in return, otherwise it would not be love, but a fascination or a selfish fantasy.

God takes our life seriously 

The Christian life is not a fantasy as people seem to think at times. They think that they can live as they like, and in the end God will make it all okay, as if Jesus is some kind of fairy godmother. He loves us too much not to take us seriously. We mean too much to Him for Him not to want our love for Him to be real and not simply a pretence.

Today, many people do not take religion seriously, and that goes for some people who go to church regularly. They do not seem to realise that what is at stake is their eternal salvation.  Someone asked me recently about an affair they were having and said that it was okay since they really loved the other person. But I asked, “Do you love them enough not to put their soul at risk? For if this relationship continues you are imperilling that person’s eternal salvation”. The man was shocked that I would use such language. But is it not true?

The Gospel Hasn’t Changed
In the church today, we don’t often speak in such terms, but the Gospel hasn’t changed in the last fifty years. Our faith is still the same. The Lord Jesus, out of love for us, offered Himself on the Cross on Calvary, so as to gain the forgiveness of our sins, that we could live in the freedom of the children of God. He did not die on the Cross so that we could go on sinning. He came to save us from our sins and selfishness, so that we could truly love. The Christian Gospel is not a license to do as one pleases. It is a wonderful message of freedom from sin and growth in the life of God. Christ came to set us free from sin, and not to imprison us in a life of sin. 

The love of God is real
The love of God is real; so real that it requires that we love Him. The Image of the Divine Mercy becomes real when we say “Jesus I trust in You”. Without this response, it is simply a nice holy card which changes nothing and brings us no true peace and communion with Christ. If we don’t respond to the message of Divine Mercy with trust, then it is not a real devotion but only a pleasant distraction.

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Our Lady Untier of Knots

Our Lady Untier of Knots
Unfailing Novena to Our Lady Untier (Undoer) of Knots, a wonderful nine-day prayer to Our Lady. This is Pope Francis' favourite Novena. One of the fastest growing Marian Devotions in the world.

 

Click this link to view: Our Lady Untier of Knots Prayer Book