Yesterday, we read a reference to the message of hope and mercy in Isaiah. John Paul II identifies the link between mercy and God’s love. This draws mercy beyond divine activity in the covenant relationship, which we might interpret as more of a legal “obligation” on the part of God and his People. The betrayal of love is one of the most wrenching of human experiences. A betrayed lover–a mortal lover–is perhaps mot as mindful of law or obligations. But God shows movement beyond this, and through it all, a faithful love in the face of unfaithfulness. The prophets of the Old Testament witness to it, and it’s no wonder Hosea is mentioned first:
It is significant that in their preaching the prophets link mercy, which they often refer to because of the people’s sins, with the incisive image of love on God’s part. The Lord loves Israel with the love of a special choosing, much like the love of a spouse,(Cf. e.g. Hos. 2:21-25 and 15;Is. 54:6-8) and for this reason He pardons its sins and even its infidelities and betrayals. When He finds repentance and true conversion, He brings His people back to grace.(Cf. Jer. 31:20; Ez. 39:25-29) In the preaching of the prophets, mercy signifies a special power of love, which prevails over the sin and infidelity of the chosen people.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana