Dives in Misericordiae 14i: Introducing Mercy to the Modern Age

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4St John Paul suggests the Church is not only concerned with conversion to Christ, but also to introduce a transformative element into the world:

For this reason, the Church must consider it one of her principal duties-at every stage of history and especially in our modern age-to proclaim and to introduce into life the mystery of mercy, supremely revealed in Jesus Christ. Not only for the Church herself as the community of believers but also in a certain sense for all humanity, this mystery is the source of a life different from the life which can be built by (people), who (are) exposed to the oppressive forces of the threefold concupiscence active within (us).(Cf. 1 Jn. 2:16)

But we cannot do this by human power alone. It makes sense to move against the human cultural instinct to hold grudges, and employ punishment:

It is precisely in the name of this mystery that Christ teaches us to forgive always. How often we repeat the words of the prayer which He Himself taught us, asking “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” which means those who are guilty of something in our regard (Mt. 6:12)

It should be obvious: the Lord’s Prayer is part of the daily fabric of life for Christians–unless we are just giving lip service to our faith.

It is indeed difficult to express the profound value of the attitude which these words describe and inculcate. How many things these words say to every individual about others and also about (her or) himself. The consciousness of being trespassers against each other goes hand in hand with the call to fraternal solidarity, which St. Paul expressed in his concise exhortation to “forbear one another in love.”(Eph. 4:2; cf. Gal. 6:2) What a lesson of humility is to be found here with regard to (people), with regard both to one’s neighbor and to oneself. What a school of good will for daily living, in the various conditions of our existence If we were to ignore this lesson, what would remain of any “humanist” program of life and education?

Ruins. Most likely.

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 the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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