As the official Year of Mercy, through the inspiration of Pope Francis, approaches, it is good to take a few weeks to refamiliarize ourselves with the great encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II, The Mercy of God, written in 1980. I will be going through the encyclical in small bites as it were, to feed the souls of us busy and fragmented people. The first section centers right away on God the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of us all, who is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). Pope John Paul begins by reminding us that it is this One God, whom “Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father….”
“Memorable in this regard is the moment when Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, turned to Christ and said, Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied; and Jesus replied, Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me?…He who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 1:18)….”
The Pope cites Hebrews 1:1-4: God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. And he goes on to say, “In Jesus Christ, every path to man [to the truth about man, a subject to which the Pope had previously devoted an encyclical, Redemptor Hominis], as it has been assigned once and for all to the Church in the changing context of the times, is simultaneously an approach to the Father and His love. The Second Vatican Council has confirmed this truth for our time.”
“Today I wish to say that openness to Christ, who as the Redeemer of the world fully ‘reveals man himself,’ can only be achieved through an ever more mature reference to the Father and His love.”
In the Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures, the word “mercy” is often translated, “steadfast love” or “kindness.” Keeping this always in mind, other Scriptures which enrich the above are, Exodus 15:13; Exodus 20:6; Exodus 25:17-22; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 51:1; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 100:5; Jeremiah 33:10, 11; Micah 6:8; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 5:7; Matthew 6:1-9: John 1:18; John 5:18-23. If you look these up, you will be greatly enriched.