Dives in Misericordiae 14e: Equality Among People

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4St John Paul speaks of equality here, but I think some people find it a difficult concept.

Mercy that is truly Christian is also, in a certain sense, the most perfect incarnation of “equality” between people, and therefore also the most perfect incarnation of justice as well, insofar as justice aims at the same result in its own sphere. However, the equality brought by justice is limited to the realm of objective and extrinsic goods, while love and mercy bring it about that people meet one another in that value which is (humankind itself), with the dignity that is proper to (us).

Do you think this is true? Does justice mainly concern itself with objective goods? Does true mercy go deeper?

At the same time, “equality” of people through “patient and kind” love (Cf. 1 Cor. 13:4) does not take away differences: the person who gives becomes more generous when (she or) he feels at the same time benefitted by the person accepting (the) gift; and vice versa, the person who accepts the gift with the awareness that, in accepting it, (she or) he too is doing good is in (her or) his own way serving the great cause of the dignity of the person; and this contributes to uniting people in a more profound manner.

What do you think about this? My sense is that people often do not feel this reciprocal mercy. I know some talk about it as an ideal. Is the problem in the one gifted with mercy? Or sometimes are we stingy with mercy, doling it out like it were a budget item?

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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