Part IV offers an extended reflection on Luke 15:11-32. Do you know the story in the citation? Before we get to the parable, let’s consider two important canticles from the first chapter of the same Gospel. Let’s be reminded to sing of mercy:
At the very beginning of the New Testament, two voices resound in St. Luke’s Gospel in unique harmony concerning the mercy of God, a harmony which forcefully echoes the whole Old Testament tradition. They express the semantic elements linked to the differentiated terminology of the ancient books. Mary, entering the house of Zechariah, magnifies the Lord with all her soul for “his mercy,” which “from generation to generation” is bestowed on those who fear Him. A little later, as she recalls the election of Israel, she proclaims the mercy which He who has chosen her holds “in remembrance” from all time.*
*In both places it is a case of hesed, i..e., the fidelity that God manifests to His own love for the people, fidelity to he promises that will find their definitive fulfillment precisely in the motherhood of the Mother of God (cf. Lk. 1:49-54).
Afterwards, in the same house, when John the Baptist is born, his father Zechariah blesses the God of Israel and glorifies Him for performing the mercy promised to our fathers and for remembering His holy covenant.(Cf. Lk. 1:72)**
**Here too it is a case of mercy in the meaning of hesed, insofar as in the following sentences, in which Zechariah speaks of the “tender mercy of our God,” there is clearly expressed the second meaning, namely, rahamim (Latin translation: viscera misericordiae), which rather identifies God’s mercy with a mother’s love.
Morning and evening the Church sings of the mercy of God. It is part of our liturgy.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana