Pope John Paul II, in 1980, was well aware not all was right in the world. People were suffering, in doubt, and discouraged as they are today–and not just those under the shadow of the Soviets and Asian socialists.
For this reason it is now fitting to reflect on this mystery. It is called for by the varied experiences of the Church and of contemporary (people). It is also demanded by the pleas of many human hearts, their sufferings and hopes, their anxieties and expectations. While it is true that every individual human being is, as I said in my encyclical Redemptor hominis, the way for the Church, at the same time the Gospel and the whole of Tradition constantly show us that we must travel this day with every individual just as Christ traced it out by revealing in Himself the Father and His love.(Cf. Gaudium et Spes 22) In Jesus Christ, every path to (a person), as it has been assigned once and for all to the Church in the changing context of the times, is simultaneously an approach to the Father and His love. The Second Vatican Council has confirmed this truth for our time.
John Paul’s personalism surfaces early in this document. As a priest, he was attentive to individuals in his ministry. This is certainly imitative of the Lord’s example in the Gospels. So too, it must be for any disciple who wishes to follow in Christ’s path of mercy. What do you think: is mercy a virtue best expressed to individual persons? How do we do that? My sense is that an authentic and heartfelt accompaniment is needed. Thoughts on that?
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana