“He who has seen me has seen the Father.”(Jn. 14:9) The Church professes the mercy of God, the Church lives by it in her wide experience of faith and also in her teaching, constantly contemplating Christ, concentrating on Him, on His life and on His Gospel, on His cross and resurrection, on His whole mystery. Everything that forms the “vision” of Christ in the Church’s living faith and teaching brings us nearer to the “vision of the Father” in the holiness of His mercy. The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ. In fact, it is precisely this drawing close to Christ in the mystery of His Heart which enables us to dwell on this point-a point in a sense central and also most accessible on the human level-of the revelation of the merciful love of the Father, a revelation which constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man.
The Father’s love is more than words, even inspired words in a sacred book. Jesus revealed the Father’s love most deeply in his encounters with people. He lived mercy in the Paschal Mystery. Speaking of mercy in the abstract is not enough to get the full experience as God offers us.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana