DIVINE MERCY - I

    

     The sole desire to be loved is always reliably gratified while the fulfillment of all other wishes remains fraught with uncertainty. All of us are in possession of everything for we have received the redemptory gift of perfect love; God has dedicated to His sacred purposes everything. In essence, loving authentically others becomes impossible without having realized the importance and the enormity of God's love. Indeed, the main cause of all imaginable sufferings (or the mistakes made), is either nonrecognition, or improper reverence, of this truth. Refusal to believe in it inescapably leads to life of illusion, which loss and disadvantage are infinitely greater than the distresses, injuries and all other losses we have already endured or might endure in the future. Nonacceptance of this truth is indistinguishable from viewing oneself and others as having only functional value, as being conditionally acceptable or lovable, and the world as a whole, as being rather an erratic and nonsupportive place. Yet, being conscious of this truth means also being aware of having everything, and revering it, is the beginning of the greatest miracle; it becomes foundational in reaching the most profound personal renewal.

     In spite of our guilt, indifference and wretchedness, God never refrains from being our merciful Father, ceaselessly promoting through His boundless gifts and love our spiritual furtherance. He is not only a transcendent, perfect, omnipotent and eternal Being but is also chiefly and wholly a merciful Being, and His mercy in actuality constitutes a preeminent inherent property of His omnipotency. Mercy is unequivocally a supreme characteristic of divine almightiness! In His Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas Aquinas exclaims, "Mercy is accounted as being proper to God: and therein His omnipotence is declared to be chiefly manifested." The prepollent power and authority of God are demonstrated primarily in His inscrutable mercy and forgiveness for God is so perfectly and immanently merciful that "to believe in Him" is equivalent "to believe in mercy." The set purpose of the entire creation was to bring forward human beings into the fullest communication with God, and communion with the Trinitarian Love, since God does not hold anything of what He has made in abhorrence (Wis. 11:24). The revelation of divine mercy and love in the Old Testament shows God's benignity toward all creatures: "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made" (Ps. 145:8-9). God's perfect benevolence bears comparison to that of a father: "As a father has compassion for his children" (Ps. 103:13); as Father of the people (Exod. 4:22-23; Deut. 1:31; 14:1; 32:5-6; Isa. 63:16; 64:7), and is demonstrated in the act of His forgiveness, protection, assistance and healing for He is a Being "who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy" (Ps. 103:3-4). "The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down" (Ps. 145:14). "The Lord opens the eyes of the blind." "The Lord watches over the strangers, he upholds the orphan and the widow" (Ps. 146:7-9). "He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds... The Lord lifts up the downtrodden" (Ps. 147:3-6). God's protectiveness or mercy is also portrayed as a loving and faithful spouse (e.g., Isa. 5:1-7; Ezek. 16:23), and is described as analogous to a father (with motherly characteristics of tenderness and affection), and a spouse (Isa. 62:4-5; Hos. 2:18, 21-22). In Psalm 144, divine protectiveness and teaching are likened to that of a good shepherd who is extremely careful with, and attentive to, His flock leading it to plentiful pastures (Ps. 144:15). In the Old Testament divine protectiveness and omnipotence are revealed through the symbols of the watchful eye representing God's omniscience, being a declaration of divine supereminence and beneficence: "Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love" (Ps. 33); "His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind," (Ps. 11:4-5). God's perfect mercy is revealed through the prophet Ezekiel: "Nevertheless my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make an end of them in the Wilderness" (Ezek. 20:17).

     Divine mercy and tenderness exhibits likeness to that of maternal affectionate attentiveness: "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you" (Isa. 49:15); "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you" (Isa. 66:13). God's mercy toward all is likened to that of an affectionate parent in Hos. (11:1-8). Divine impenetrable mercy, ceaseless guidance and intervention toward all are expressed through numerous psalmist's affirmations, for example: "Upon you I have leaned from my birth" (Ps. 71:6); "it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (139:13). And for those who were abandoned by their parents God becomes their refuge: "If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up" (Ps. 27:10); "It was you who took me from my mother's womb" (Ps. 71:6). The divine mercy is also represented by symbols of a rock (Deut. 32:15); the sun (Ps. 84:11); fire (Deut. 4:24) and God's protection is likened to that of an eagle's caring of her eaglets (Deut. 32:11-12).

     In the New Testament, the climax of the dramatic disclosure of the divine mercy is God's sending His only Son into the world to suffer and die for the salvation of the erring and corrupted humankind. Through the Paschal Mystery, Christ abolishes, and renders useless or ineffective disunion, schismaticalness, isolability and separation found in humanity, bringing into being an inimitable union, undividedness and harmony between human beings, and human beings with God. "The wisdom of the cross, therefore, breaks free of all cultural limitations which seeks to contain it and insists upon an openness to the universality of the truth which it bears" (Fides Et Ratio). Omnipotence of God's love indicates that no one, and nothing can be excluded from His love, even sin could never ruin the divine plan but served as a route for God's revelation of the magnitude of His self-giving love, so that through Christ's painful sacrifice human beings might be reconciled with God and share in His freely given infinitude. As Cardinal Roger Etchegaray beautifully expressed it: "The royal door by which the love of God gushes forth upon us is that of the heart of his Son, pierced on the cross. Here is the holy door, the door of jubilation" (God, the Father of Mercy, Foreword). Christ's "self-emptying on the cross" is the undisputed and absolute affirmation of who the tripersonal God is or what the essentiality of God is: it conveys unambiguously that God is self-giving love. Full significance or interpretation of this sacrifice remains beyond human imaginativeness, and beyond human intellectual and spiritual compass. Frequently, human beings envision, anticipate or prognosticate still greater occurances to come or wish for still greater tasks to be carried out simply because we do not wholly comprehend the significance of the one that had already been fulfilled. Humankind received the fullness of God's love which again was unequivocally declared on the Cross, providing the full assurance of Trinitarian Love, and, without reservation, representing the highest amplitude of love. If Its true meaning were only grasped, the meaning of the greatest - noblest accomplishment and mission - the meaning of the greatest love would be grasped. The Trinitarian Love (at each moment) is infinite and perfect, and therefore each act of God's love is corresponding with the one validated on the Cross. Every single act or word uttered by Christ (e.g., mercy - the cardinal subject of His teaching) till His resurrection is an incontestable and pure act of mercy - revealing accordingly the unmitigated plenariness of the Trinitarian Mercy.

Christian Works by Dorothy Kardas, Psy.D. Th.D. 

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