Reflection on Divine Mercy
From Creation, God has revealed his nature as love itself, in Sacred Scripture and most perfectly in the life, Passion, death and Resurrection of his Son, Jesus. Saints have also borne witness to God’s unfathomable love, e.g., in the writings of Augustine, Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Margaret Mary Alacoque and Thérèse of Lisieux.
In his second encyclical, Rich in Mercy, Pope Saint John Paul II offers an extended meditation on the mystery of God’s mercy, which he calls “the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God” (Dives in misericordia, 13). He returned to this theme throughout his pontificate:
As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!
Lord, who reveals the Father’s love by Your death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.
—St. Pope John Paul II, Regina caeli message prepared for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2005
What is mercy if not the boundless love of God, who confronted with human sin, restrains the sentiment of severe justice and, allowing Himself to be moved by the wretchedness of His creatures, spurs Himself to the total gift of self, in the Son’s cross …?
Who can say that he is free from sin and does not need God’s mercy? As people of this restless time of ours, wavering between the emptiness of self-exaltation and the humiliation of despair, we have a greater need than ever for a regenerating experience of mercy.
—St. Pope John Paul II, Regina caeli message, April 10, 1994
Pope Benedict XVI called St. John Paul II “a great apostle of Divine Mercy” and echoed his predecessor’s thoughts:
In our time, humanity needs a strong proclamation and witness of God’s mercy. Beloved John Paul II, a great apostle of Divine Mercy, prophetically intuited this urgent pastoral need. He dedicated his second Encyclical to it and throughout his pontificate made himself a missionary of God’s love to all peoples.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus message, September 16, 2007
Mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love. May this merciful love also shine on the face of the Church and show itself through the sacraments, in particular that of Reconciliation, and in works of charity, both communitarian and individual. May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for man.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Regina caeli address, March 30, 2008
Pope Francis built upon this consistent teaching and made mercy a key theme of his Pontificate.
Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very existence, through which the profound truths of the Gospel are made manifest and tangible. Everything is revealed in mercy; everything is resolved in the merciful love of the Father.
—Pope Francis, Misericordia et misera, November 20, 2016
[Reminding us of Jesus’ words to Saint Faustina:] “’I am love and mercy itself; there is no human misery that could measure up to my mercy’ (Diary, 14 September 1937). At one time, the Saint, with satisfaction, told Jesus that she had offered him all of her life and all that she had. But Jesus’ answer stunned her: ‘You have not offered me the thing is truly yours.’ What had that holy nun kept for herself? Jesus said to her with kindness: ‘My daughter, give me your failings’ (10 October 1937). We too can ask ourselves: ‘Have I given my failings to the Lord? Have I let him see me fall so that he can raise me up?’ Or is there something I still keep inside me? A sin, a regret from the past, a wound that I have inside, a grudge against someone, an idea about a particular person… The Lord waits for us to offer him our failings so that he can help us experience his mercy.”National Conference of Catholic Bishops