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Mercy, or how to be like God the Father

Dear Hubby and I spent Friday night with our beloved Franciscan Sisters, who are hosting monthly discussions on the Year of Mercy.

The speaker this past Friday was a philosophy professor who is a student of St. John Paul II. He reminded us that one of St. JP II's encyclical's was DIVES IN MISERICORDIA, or God, who is rich in mercy.

I had read this encyclical once upon a time, but I think it will be my study for this Lent. JP II's writing can be tough going - he is a philosopher, and usually packs about 16 significant thoughts in a sentence or two. However, given that this is the Year of Mercy, what better study could there be?

We read in the Constitution Gaudium et spes: "Christ the new Adam...fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his lofty calling," and does it "in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love."6 The words that I have quoted are clear testimony to the fact that man cannot be manifested in the full dignity of his nature without reference - not only on the level of concepts but also in an integrally existential way - to God. Man and man's lofty calling are revealed in Christ through the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love.

For this reason it is now fitting to reflect on this mystery. It is called for by the varied experiences of the Church and of contemporary man. It is also demanded by the pleas of many human hearts, their sufferings and hopes, their anxieties and expectations. While it is true that every individual human being is, as I said in my encyclical Redemptor hominis, the way for the Church, at the same time the Gospel and the whole of Tradition constantly show us that we must travel this day with every individual just as Christ traced it out by revealing in Himself the Father and His love.7 In Jesus Christ, every path to man, 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.

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