“My gaze from this Image is like My gaze from the Cross”
– Diary of Saint Faustina
In the Diary of Saint Faustina, the Lord tells us through the humble Sister that – “My gaze from this Image is like My gaze from the Cross”.
What do these words signify?
I think firstly, they remind us that although the Divine Mercy Image portrays the Lord in His glorious and resurrected form, the pinnacle of Divine Mercy took place upon the Cross, when His Heart was opened for us by the lance and the Blood and Water flowed out. It is this which we commemorate and pray over in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – “for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world” – and which we offer to the Eternal Father. His Passion and Death is the fullness and the completion of His earthly mission and the great hour of His mercy.
It is interesting to note that on looking upon the face of Christ in the Divine Mercy Image, you will see that the eyes are slightly downcast – why is this? Why is He not looking straight out from the Image? He has given us the reason already – His gaze reflects His gaze upon the Cross; and there, He was looking down from that Cross upon those gathered beneath it.
And I think secondly, the words are meant quite literally. It is the same gaze, because it signifies precisely the same thing in the Image as it did upon the Cross – an immense love for all mankind and especially for poor sinners. It was for love of us sinners that He allowed Himself to be nailed to the Cross, for love of us His Heart was pierced, and for love of us that His life was given up. The Divine Mercy devotion recalls all of this to us and asks us to offer that Passion and Death to the Heavenly Father.
In the Gospels, the Lord reminds us that He came to call sinners, rather than for the just – it is, He says, the ill who need a doctor, not the healthy. These gentle words are a foreshadowing of the equally gentle call which will come from the Lord two millennia later as part of the Divine Mercy devotion. In this, the Lord will again be at pains to reminds us that His Heart is filled with love for every one of us, and especially for sinners. Our sinfulness is never greater than His infinite mercy and can never exhaust it.
While the world clamours for justice as the world sees it, God sees things differently. His perspective is greater and broader and far more searching. He alone can read the hearts of every one of us, while we can see only the surface and what is presented to us. And with God, His greatest attribute is that mercy, which triumphs over justice. Mercy is the very nature of God, revealing to us His face, which is one of mercy and compassionate love. As the Holy Father tells us, Christ reveals to us the face of the Father; Christ is the personification and revelation of Divine Mercy.
But remember that God never forces Himself upon us. In the same way that He will not force us to accept His love, neither will He force us to accept His mercy – we are always free to choose. And so, while our sinfulness will never block our path back to God, Who always keeps the way open for us, still our hearts can prevent His mercy acting within us. It is possible that souls either believe themselves to be beyond that mercy (we call this despair); or that we simply expect to be forgiven (we call that presumption). Rather, mercy must be asked for – and to ask for it, we must first accept our need of it; and this requires that we identify ourselves as sinners. It is then that the numerous words of the Merciful Lord addressed to sinners, begin to have real meaning for us, giving us solace and encouragement.
Proclaiming ourselves, in all humility, to be sinners, let us look upon this Face so overflowing with mercy, and ask Him to give it to us, and then receive it with thanks.