Posted April 13, 2007 in Word Made Flesh:
How Could You, God?

by Fr. Pat McNulty.

"When I am lifted up I will draw all things to myself" (Jn.12:32). Here’s something to think about any time, but especially on Mercy Sunday.

Do you ever get a bit weary of all those nuns who had profound visions and special conversations with Christ for so many years in their convents?

Like who? Well, like Sister Margaret Mary from the Visitation convent in France and all her visions and conversations with the Sacred Heart of Jesus back in the late 1600s? Or, the Polish nun, Sister Faustina, and all of her visions and conversations with Christ about Divine Mercy back in the 1930s?

So, what’s with nuns in the convent anyway? How about a big ol’ Irish priest—you know, just an ordinary, everyday kind of person. Why don’t they have visions and conversations with Christ?

Like who?

I cannot believe you asked that question, but if you did then this article is definitely for you.

We know that the fullest union with Christ (which is what "saint" is all about) has nothing to do with who we are or where we live or visions or conversations with Christ. It’s all about love. Love with no boundaries. Love with no preferences. Heroic love.

And we know that this is a love that has to be prepared for and embraced gradually. You don’t just "enter a convent" and it’s all over but the canonization.

But when the Lord wants to shower the whole Church with a new vision of his love, he usually does choose some hidden, simple person who has the heart for it.

Because what he wants to reveal is so far beyond human comprehension that most of us would not be able to bear it and remain sane, let alone believe it.

Convents used to be perfect places for such visions of Love and Mercy and such folk as Sts. Faustina and Margaret Mary.

However, it is not unusual after Christ has revealed this marvelous new vision of his love through an individual person—whether under the guise of his Sacred Heart or his Divine Mercy—for any one of us to have a "vision" of The Vision.

It has nothing to do with holiness. Christ means to spread the vision to every heart by whatever means. That’s why he reveals it in the first place.

And so, many of us have had such "visions." Nothing earth-shaking. Nothing meant to be proclaimed from the roof tops. Nothing making us exceptional.

But there are special ways in which Christ touches our hearts with The Vision so we can rejoice with our brother-and-sister saints who had the courage to let Christ reveal it to the Church in the first place.

I can remember such a "vision" of The Vision in my life like it was yesterday.

I was in a very isolated place, and one night I had a dream. It was so vivid that when I awoke, I could not figure out if it was a dream or a happening.

The dream was about the Last Judgment. The imagery was traditional: long lines of people waiting to meet with the Lord for their own judgment.

(Of course, according to that imagery it would take at least half of eternity before the last person came for judgment, but dreams are dreams.)

Everything was peaceful and orderly in my dream. Christ was off in the distance with an individual who was being judged. You could not hear the conversation between them but you could see them both.

This particular person was on the ground at the feet of Christ, rolling, screaming, ripping off his clothing, spitting. It was awful.

(I think the reason everything was so quiet was that all of us were thinking about our own lives and wondering what our time with The Judge was going to be like.) After a very long time, the person being judged was worn out and was just lying there at Jesus’ feet.

So far Jesus had done or said nothing. Now he bent down, helped the person up, began to brush off his tattered clothing, and gently turned him toward the Pearly Gates which were quite a distance away.

While others came for judgment, Jesus often turned toward that same person and motioned him to keep going. Each time that person turned around I knew I had seen him somewhere before, but he was too tattered and torn for me to recognize him.

As he walked, and as Jesus continued to encourage him, the dirt fell off him and his rags began to turn into fresh, clean clothing.

Suddenly I heard, "McNulty! Patrick McNulty!" Oh my God! That’s me! I walked very slowly to the place of judgment, My head was bowed down, and I was praying the name of Jesus a million times a second. "McNulty? Patrick McNulty?" "Here Lord. I’m here."

Jesus reached out, touched me very gently and smiled. I didn’t know what to do, so I sheepishly tried to smile back. And then I saw it.

The man standing frozen in his footsteps at the entrance to Heaven and being motioned on again by Christ was none other than Adolph Hitler!

I looked at Hitler and then at Jesus and said, "Adolph Hitler? How could you, God? How could you? I have worked all my life to try and embrace the Gospel and follow you and get to heaven. And this monster is gonna be there too? How can you do that? How?"

"My Mercy is mine, Patrick, and I do with it what I want. But it’s yours too if you want it!"

Suddenly I woke up. I was in terror and crying out the Jesus Prayer. Had I actually refused to go to heaven because it seemed that Adolph Hitler might be there? Had I chosen to go somewhere else for all Eternity?

I didn’t know if it had been a dream or not. After a while I came to my senses, and I realized what had been shown to me in my dream. It was not about Adolph Hitler. And it was not even about me and the Last Judgment. It was about the mystery of the mercy of God.

It was a warning that if I ever think I am keen enough or holy enough to decide to whom heaven should be extended, then it cannot be extended to me!

It’s only mine if "they" can have it too. That’s why we need people like St. Margaret Mary and St. Faustina—Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy saints—to let Christ gently and firmly shatter our puny sense of what we think He can and cannot do, what he should and should not do—for "them" and for "us!"

Nowhere is our sense of God more puny than when we think about Mercy. The Lord has come to stretch our hearts not in order to declare Grace cheap but to show us the infinite power of Love.

And to tell us once again, especially during this holy season of Easter, that the power of his Love touches even those in the tomb of death from which he rose and now, lifted up, draws all things to himself.

No one is beyond the power of that Love and Mercy. No one! But, it’s only mine if "they" can have it too.

P.S. On second thought, it’s really astute of You, Jesus, to stay with nuns in the convent for such visions and conversations as these. I just realized that the big ol’ Irish priest I originally had in mind can hardly even handle a little ol’ dream! Jesus, mercy!


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