The last paragraph of this section began to look at the conclusion of human need, the “end of time,” if you will. We are not yet at that point. St John Paul reminds us of the importance of mercy as a necessary impulse. Mercy reveals God and acts of mercy demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. We live in a physical universe, after all. God made us to communicate through actions. Jesus demonstrated this in his public ministry as recorded in the Gospels. He also presents himself on the Cross.
In the eschatological fulfillment mercy will be revealed as love, while in the temporal phase, in human history, which is at the same time the history of sin and death, love must be revealed above all as mercy and must also be actualized as mercy. Christ’s messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church. At its very center there is always the cross, for it is in the cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination. Until “the former things pass away,”(Cf. Rv. 21:4) the cross will remain the point of reference for other words too of the Revelation of John: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”(Rv. 3:20) In a special way, God also reveals His mercy when He invites (us) to have “mercy” on His only Son, the crucified one.
Jesus beckons us into a companionship. We know from the Gospels that he invites us to take up our cross and follow him. To what limit will this imitation take us? What do you think it means to have mercy on Jesus?
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana