The parable of the prodigal son expresses in a simple but profound way the reality of conversion. Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world.
Let’s be careful considering the agency of conversion. We speak often of it, especially when describing people who have made a decision for Christ, or even when they switch Christian alliances. Let’s be clear that God inspires faith and conversion is often due to the impulse of divine grace.
The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in (the person).
Mercy as message. Mercy as power. Do you agree:
Understood in this way, mercy constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of His mission. His disciples and followers understood and practiced mercy in the same way. Mercy never ceased to reveal itself, in their hearts and in their actions, as an especially creative proof of the love which does not allow itself to be “conquered by evil,” but overcomes “evil with good.”(Cf. Rom. 12:21) The genuine face of mercy has to be ever revealed anew. In spite of many prejudices, mercy seems particularly necessary for our times.
The whole point of the entry of Jesus into the world is a mission of mercy, and the triumph over evil. Clearly God sees mercy as a strategy against evil. Mercy is also a powerful vector against the potential pitfalls of rigor.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana