The expression, “God is Merciful” is no longer new to the mankind of our century. This is consequent upon the reason that the existence of the Church founded by God through the Person of Christ, is a constant re-echo of God’s Mercy through Her proclamations from Scriptural teachings, Tradition, the holy writings of Church Fathers, and the sacred Magisteria (of which none has ever contradicted another).
The first Principal Mystery is that there is One God, while the second is that in One God, there are Three Persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One important teaching of the Church is that God, by His Nature is Eternal. O Christian soul! This God Who is Eternal is described with many attributes, for as the Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas teaches, whatever that is predicated of God is valid.
But God, according to the Greek Church Father, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, is even greater than all these names we call Him, to indicate that the human person lacks words to describe his Creator. Among the names used in reference to God, the attribute of Mercy seems to be the most common. No wonder St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the Litany of the Divine Mercy echoes that the “Divine Mercy” is the “Greatest Attribute of God” (Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary 949). If God is Eternal, then His Mercy is Eternal. What then is this Mercy, and why and how does it flow in time?
One might be inspired to ask: “Does God exist for the sake of Mercy, or is Mercy in existence because there is God?” The answer to this question is found in the Bible, and begins from the Creation story after the fall of our first parents (cf. Gen 3:1-24). The consequence of this fall is that the whole mankind is contaminated by Original sin. Considering this, the Mellifluous Doctor, St. Bernard of Clairvaux imagines a struggle in God. The Justice of God vowed not to rest until man is condemned, while the Mercy of God vowed not to rest until man is redeemed (cf. In Annunt. B.M. s. I).
Since the Divine Mind has created man in His Own Image, God vowed to redeem man, for as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, God saw man as His Own god, for he is His Image (cf. Opuscula, 63, c. 7). Thus, the Divine Decision to redeem man is an act of the Mercy of God Who is Eternal; God’s desire to save man was echoed not in time, but from Eternity. As the Doctor of the Eucharist, St. John Chrysostom proclaims, God is a Philostorgios (Tender Father), and the God of synkatabasis (Indulgence) (cf. Commentary on Genesis).
This Mercy of our tender God Who is Eternal is not content in Himself, thus, He wishes to enter into time through the Person of Jesus, the Eternal Word Who existed in the beginning, not just only with God, but also as God (cf. Jn. 1:1).
Of all the nine planets, He came to earth to show Mercy to man by appearing as Man. This Door of Mercy was opened in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so that the Word Who was with God, and Who is God will become Man (cf. Jn. 1:14) in order to draw man back to God. Mary, thus, becomes in the words of monk Herman Contratto, the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy, cf. the prayer, Salve Regina, “Hail Holy Queen”). Jesus became Man to inspire man to be conscious of His eternity. Therefore, as the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard says, if there were no bond of unity among men, if there were no eternal consciousness in man, then life will be in discomfort (cf. Fear and Trembling, A Panegyric upon Abraham). The merciful coming of Jesus brought this consciousness in man. It therefore creates a bond of love between the Divine and the human; Jesus appeared in the Flesh to remind man that he (man) is eternal with God, and thus, he has his soul to save.
O Christian soul! Do you wish to understand what God’s Mercy is like? Then gaze devotedly on the Cross. The culmination of this Mercy is seen at Christ’s Death on the Cross, for; that Second Person in God Who appeared in the Manger now appears on the Cross. This informs us that there is a connection between His Infancy and Crucifixion. His Incarnation is for a purpose – the Redemption. Thus, the logic behind the Incarnation and the Redemption is the Logic of God’s Love and Mercy for man, for both the Birth and Death of the Saviour of man is experienced in the One and same Person of Jesus. Therefore, re-echoing the words of St. John Chrysostom, Love and Mercy of God is proved on the Cross, for the Lord through the Tree of the Cross defeated the devil who defeated the world through the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. The result of this is therefore, that through His Mercy, God formed the Church from the pierced side of Christ, the New Adam, just as He formed Eve from the side of the old Adam; the pierced side of Christ is the stream of Mercy from which the Church was born.
Even till today, God has opened the Door of His Mercy in a wider way through the ministry of His priests in the Sacraments of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, for He knows that the salvation of our souls is the supreme law (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1752). Through these Sacraments, Christ, Who is our Brother encourages us to come closer to Him without being afraid, for, in the words of the Most Zealous Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, God exercises His Mercy to us sinners in three ways: firstly, in calling us to repentance; secondly, in waiting for us to return, and thirdly, in receiving us when we return (cf. Sermon XXXII, nos. 1-11).
Therefore, O Christian soul! Let us not be afraid of approaching these Sacraments to receive the Mercy of God Who is the God of Mercy, for the Sacraments are occasions of Grace, and not of sin. The only thing God requires from us is contrition and resolution to sin no more, for as the Doctor of Grace, St. Augustine echoes, God created man, but man created himself a sinner. Thus, man should destroy what he has created (sin), so that God can save what He created (man) (cf. In Evangelium Johannis Tractatus, 12, 13 PL 35, 1491). This is a powerful means to save our souls, for according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, once a soul is lost, all is lost, and once it is lost, it is lost forever (cf. Sermon XLIII, nos. 1-10).
O, Christian soul! The simple but solemn message is this: the Mystery of Mercy is the work of the Blessed Trinity, for it flows from the Heart of the Eternal Father, through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and sustained till the end of time by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Mercy is not just only what God shows, but also what God is. Before this Mystery, let every tongue remain silent, and let the whole universe tremble!