Man’s Desperate Need for God’s Mercy
Since falling in Original Sin, Man has endured physical suffering (Gen 3:16-19) and suffering from concupiscence and sin (CCC 1264). In response, God, who has enduring love for all Creation (Ps 136:4-6), offers His Divine Mercy, comforting Man’s suffering and forgiving Man’s sins (CCC p. 888). God’s Divine Mercy comforts Israel’s suffering by bringing Israel out of Egypt (Ps 136:10–16), in the conquest of Canaan through the defeat of Israel’s enemies (Ps 136:17–22; 40:11, 79:8; Jer 42:12) and in restoring Israel after the Exile (Ezek 39:25). God’s Divine Mercy forgives Israel’s repeated sins (Ex 33:19; Ps 85:15, Isa 63:9; Neh 9:17; Jon 4:2) and offers final forgiveness and redemption of His people (Deut 13:17; Isa 54:8; 55:3; Jer 33:26; Mic 7:20). God proclaims to Moses that He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:5-6; CCC 210).
The False Mercies of the Post-Modern World
Post-modern Man suffers and sins because of the lingering effects of Original Sin. Post-modern secularists reject God and deny sin while attempting to alleviate Man’s suffering. Secularists: seek to stifle God through oppressive political correctness that denies truth; impose the culture of death that promotes abortion, contraception and euthanasia; indoctrinate children in government schools; pit people against each other through “identity politics”; enable single parenthood and homosexual “marriage”; enslave in the corruptive dependency of the welfare state; spend trillions of dollars on unfunded social/economic programs. Despite mind-boggling spending and escalating government control, Man’s suffering and sin is worsening due to increasing: estrangement from God due to atheism and DYI faith; abandonment of marriage and children; loss of dignified work; feminization/homosexualization of the culture; addiction to porn; obesity, alcoholism and drug addiction; loneliness/isolation and escapism into a online fantasy worlds. Post-modern secularist “mercies” are false mercies for they can never offer true forgiveness of sins or relieve Man’s suffering.
The Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ offers His Divine Mercy to relieve suffering and forgive the sins of all who seek Him. Jesus:
Is sent by the Father to bring Mercy to Man – Jesus Christ is with the Father from the beginning (John 1:1; 17:5; CCC 422-23) and prefigured in the Old Testament (CCC 1223). In the fullness of time (Gal 4:7), the Mercy of God is perfectly fulfilled in the person and mission of Jesus Christ. God who is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) sends His Son so that “He may have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32; Titus 3:5). Mary speaks of God’s great mercy (Luke 1:50, 54), as does Zechariah (Luke 1: 72, 78).
Offers His Divine Mercy to relieve Man’s suffering:
Has an aching compassion that moves Him to mercy – Jesus, God Incarnate, feels the deepest and visceral mercy, described in the Greek, splagchna eleous, literally “the bowels of mercy” (Luke 1:78) or in Latin tradition, misericordia, literally, “miserable heart”. Moved with empathetic pain in His Sacred Heart, Jesus is powerfully moved by the helplessness and suffering of Man (Matt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Luke 7:13).
Responds to those who suffer and cry out for Mercy – Jesus responds to those who seek His Mercy: two sets of two blind men (Matt 9:27; Matt 20:30); the Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter (Matt 15:22); the man with the epileptic son (Matt 17:15); Bartimaeus, the blind beggar (Mark 10:47); the 10 lepers (Luke 17:13); cleansing the leper (Mark 1:41); feeding the hungry (Matt 15:32; Mark 8:2); teaching the ignorant (Mark 6:34); raising the dead (Luke 7:13).
Offers His Divine Mercy to forgive sinners:
Announces His Mission to bring the Mercy of forgiveness to Sinners – Jesus comes “not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32) and desires “mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matt 9:13). Scandalous to the scribes and the Pharisees (Matt 9:10–13; 12:7), Jesus dines with sinners and tax collectors (Luke 15:1-2, 22 – 32) inviting them into His Mercy. He rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their lack of mercy (Matt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23).
Demonstrates Mercy by forgiving sinners – Jesus possesses the Divine Authority to forgive sinners (John 5:18; 10:33; CCC 589), leaving the Jewish leaders to ask, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). Jesus offers His mercy using the formula “your sins are forgiven” and working His miracles (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). He mercifully forgives repentant sinners including the Samaritan woman (John 4:7–26), the woman taken in adultery (John 8:3–11) and, sensationally, Peter despite Peter’s outright multiple denials of Christ (John 21:15–19).
Instructs Man to be Merciful – Jesus teaches that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7) and that Man must “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). He calls Man to be merciful in relieving the suffering of others: In the Parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37) and the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46), from which the Corporal Acts of Mercy are taken (CCC 2447) that Man must perform on pain of eternal damnation (Matt 25:41). He calls Man to be merciful in forgiveness of sins in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32; CCC 1439) and explicitly in the Lords Prayer (Matt 6:12: “as we forgive those who trespass against us”). He explicitly condemns the lack of mercy in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:23-35).
Invites Man to repent and enter into God’s Mercy – Jesus invites sinners “to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom…[and] shows them in word and deed His Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents””(CCC 545).
Reveals the infinite bounds of Mercy in the Passion – “By going so far as to give up His own Son for us, God reveals that He is “rich in mercy” (CCC 211). “The supreme proof of His [Jesus’] love…[is] the sacrifice of His own life “for the forgiveness of sins”” (CCC 545).
Continues to offer His enduring Mercy to all those willing to accept it:
To receive Mercy, Man must repent and forgive others – To receive Divine Mercy, Man must be willing to accept God’s Mercy (CCC 1864), to hope for God’s Mercy (CCC 2091), repent from sin (1 John 1:8-9; CCC 1429; 1847) and forgive others (CCC 2840).
Gives Man the Church, the Sacraments and the Mother of Mercy – Because Christ desires none to be lost to Hell and that all might be saved (CCC 1037), He gives Man the Church and the graces of the Reconciliation and the Eucharist as enduring sources of His Mercy (CCC 2040; 1422; 2100). He also gives Man the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, to intercede for Man’s redemption (CCC 2677).
Guided the Church to emphasize Christ’s Divine Mercy – Saint John Paul II’s beautiful encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) teaches the centrality of Divine Mercy. The Church has also canonized St. Faustina Kowalska who received from Christ the Divine Mercy Devotion. The Church celebrates and announces God’s Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter.
Virtues and Prudence
“Virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of Intellect and Will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good” (CCC 1804). The four “cardinal virtues” are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance (CCC 1805). Prudence is the “charioteer of the virtues” for it guides the other virtues to make moral decisions to do the good (CCC 1806), consistent with God’s Will (CCC 1787). St. Thomas Aquinas sums up Prudence as “right reason in action”: the ultimate “right” must be aimed at the Truth of God; well-formed “reason” requires Man’s Intellect to have deep knowledge of the Word (i.e. the Logos, also meaning “reason”) who is Jesus Christ; for fallen Man’s Will to take the correct “action” requires the constant reliance on Grace of the Sacraments and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit.
The Terminal Imprudence of Man
Adam fails in Prudence (Gen 2:17, 3:1-24): he did not choose the “right” of doing God’s expressed Will; he did not embrace the “reason” of God; he relied on Satan (and Eve), instead of God in his “action.” Post-modern Man is terminally Imprudent. Rejecting the “right” Truth of God, today’s atheists reject God outright and Casual Catholics ignore God, settling for a lazy pluralism/relativism in which the clarity of good and evil is lost. Rejecting the “reason” of Jesus Christ, Tradition, Natural Law and the ages-old wisdom of how humans thrive in faith, family and community, Post-modern Man relies on “feelings”, emotion and indulgent urges, trying to find novel new “truths” in science, political messiahs, or post-modern philosophies. Confused, Man idolizes a narcissistic ability to have a “choice” rather than taking right “action”, embracing a flabby, effeminate way of living rather than manly responsibility. The rotten fruit of Post-modern Man’s Imprudence is the prevalent “Culture of Death.”