Dives in Misericordiae 2b: A Visible Mercy

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Mercy didn’t begin with the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery. The Israelites were certainly aware of God’s mercy. Indeed, they had many terms for it, variations on a theme, if you will:

In this way, in Christ and through Christ, God also becomes especially visible in His mercy; that is to say, there is emphasized that attribute of the divinity which the Old Testament, using various concepts and terms, already defined as “mercy.” Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy. To the person who sees it in Him – and finds it in Him – God becomes “visible” in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy.”(Eph. 2:4)

Jesus didn’t just preach Old Testament mercy, as a rabbi would. He embodied it. Think not only of his healings, but also his careful attention to people. If John Paul II was moved to write on mercy as part of a defining document of his service as Bishop of Rome, one can see traces of his regard for people as a minister. One can see the thread of Christian personalism in this: the notion that Jesus intercedes and intervenes for each person. Are we open to that encounter? Do we find mercy visible in our lives?

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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