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You are here:Home / Family News / NEF 2016 / Family News - April 14th, 2016 / Spirituality
Apr 13, 2016


Easter on the year of Mercy

The found drachma, Godfried Schalcken, 1675-80, Private collection

On the occasion of Easter on this extraordinary Year of Mercy, we can understand more clearly the relationship between the Resurrection of Jesus and Mercy. In the first place, Mercy finds a clear and whole expression in the Resurrection of Jesus. St John Paul II wrote: “In His resurrection Christ has revealed the God of merciful love,... Here is the Son of God, who in His resurrection experienced in a radical way mercy shown to Himself, that is to say the love of the Father which is more powerful than death.” (Dives in Misericordia, 8).

Mercy is closely linked to the Resurrection. They are both at the heart of the celebration of Easter and at the heart of our faith.

We also see this close link between Mercy and the Resurrection in certain parables, where the journey back home, the journey back to the Father, is a symbol of the Resurrection – something that all Christians experience when they receive forgiveness. Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel contains 3 parables in which the chorus of ‘lost/found’ or ‘dead/coming back to life’ resounds. These Mercy parables tell of the resurrection experience in a deep and intense manner: the lost sheep and the joy of the shepherd; the drachma which was found again and the joy it brought to the woman; the prodigal son who “was dead but has now come back to life”.There are also various episodes told in the Gospel where Jesus not only preaches the Mercy of God, but also lives it. In these episodes, there is a very close link between Mercy, Compassion and the Resurrection. For example, when Jesus, before bringing back to life the son of Naïm’s widow, “felt sorry for her”. (Luke 7:13.) Or when Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus (John 11) and before commanding him to leave the tomb, “was greatly distressed”.

In both cases, in order to express this feeling of mercy and compassion, the Gospel-writers use a term which refers to a mother’s womb and also to the innards of the human being in general, these being considered as the source of sentiments, in the Bible.

In His Mercy, the Father doesn’t abandon us in the tomb of our sin, but meets us and frees us. We often pray in Psalm 15:9-10: “my body too will rest secure, for you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss”. Just as the tomb that received Jesus’ dead body was transformed by the Father into a spring where life itself spurted out, so too at Easter, the Father, in His Mercy, transforms the hard stone of our sin into a bosom where we can be reborn into a new life.

Mercy is then able to achieve the resurrection of our brothers. Where Matthew speaks of the perfection of God (Matt 5:48), Luke speaks of the Mercy of God: “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:36.). By these words, Jesus not only reveals what God is like, but he also tells us that we can contribute to the resurrection of our brother through our acts of mercy.

In conclusion, here is how St John Paul II expressed this close link between the Paschal Mystery and Mercy: “The Paschal Mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man and, through man, in the world.” (Dives in Misericordia, 7.)

Enrico Frigerio scj
General Vicar

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