“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has visited His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour in the House of David“
– ‘Benedictus’, from Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours
The message of Divine Mercy begins with Christmas; on this day, Mercy becomes incarnate – “today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Lk.2:11). As the Angels told the Shepherds that Christmas morning, this was ‘news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole world’. Christ the Lord can only be our Saviour by dying on the Cross, sacrificing His life for us, for the forgiveness of sins; but before that can happen, He must be born in the flesh. The Eternal Word takes human form, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, as we are reminded in the Divine Praises, He is “true God and true man”.
Gazing upon the Crib, we see the Christ Child nestled in the manger; at His side, the Mother of God and St Joseph. Usually, His little arms are outstretched, taking the form of a cross – a subtle reminder of what will come later. We may be struck by the simplicity, the poverty, of the scene; the Lord is born with nothing, in a borrowed stable, hay for a bed, and animals for company.
We may be struck, too, by the humility of the Blessed Virgin; having just become the Mother of God, She kneels in adoration of this Child, as do St Joseph and the Shepherds and, a little later, the Three Kings. This humility of the Blessed Virgin is crucial – it was this humility, the foundation of all the other graces, and present in such abundance in Her, which became the bedrock of Her life on earth and as a result of which, She would become the Gate of Heaven. This sentiment is echoed in the Gospel of Christmas Eve, where we read the account of the Annunciation and the ‘yes’ which the Blessed Virgin offers in all humility to God – “I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to Me” (Lk.1:38).
Our salvation history is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, particularly in the Prophets and especially in Isaiah, where we are told repeatedly of the Saviour Who will come to save His people. Now, on Christmas Day, all of these prophetic words reach fulfilment – God is with us. Our salvation history has begun. It will reach it’s zenith later, on Golgotha, upon the Cross; but it will not end there, as we know, for He will rise again and ascend to the Father in Heaven. And from that point on, He will never cease interceding for us with His Father and sanctifying us with His Spirit, poured out upon the Church, His mystical Bride.
Nor will He cease to send His Mother, that same Woman who knelt in adoration of Him in the manger, to come to our aid at various points, to say once more what She said in the Gospel – ‘Do whatever He tells you’ – and to point us toward Him, Who is the Day Star.
He will also send great Saints to teach us by the examples of their lives and their heroic witness to Him, and among these will be a young, uneducated, hidden, Polish nun, called Faustina. She will transmit to us a message as old as the Prophets, as new as the present day, and as powerful as the Heart of Jesus – a message of Divine Mercy.
And all of this, this wonderful and beautiful history of our salvation, of the God who is with us, begins today. It begins on a Christmas morning in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem, which means ‘House of Bread’, where we kneel to adore the Child laid in a manger.
“As for Mary, She treasured all these things and pondered them in Her Heart” (Lk.2:19)