Domingo de la Divina Misericordia | Year B

Posted on abril 5, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

Psalm 85:10, “Justice and Mercy have kissed.”

Justice and Mercy has been called the oldest joke in psychiatry because when it tries to find the answer to blending the two, new questions intrude.1

What did the Frenchman say when God gave him mercy? Merci

The need to learn self-forgiveness is as important as forgiving others. First we repent, then God shows mercy on ourselves. It is by knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves that we are able to recognize our own fragility and weakness. Only by being ready to accept ourselves as we are can we show mercy to others. Only what is accepted can be overcome.2

The breath of God forgives you: “[Jesus] breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven…”  (Jn 20:22-23).

The tension in Divine Mercy is that, as Ephesians 2:4 points out, mercy is given in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit- It’s unconditional mercy, rather than limited love. 

Yet, the gift of mercy is impossible for the person who is not contrite. The ego either lies to itself about itself, or it persists in its injustice or sin. E.g. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death” (Catechism, 393). Damnation is attained through a definitive deliberation. It is the state of those who definitively reject the Father’s mercy, even at the last moment of their life.

E.g. for the 2002 World Day of Peace the Pope JPII declared, «There exists … a right to defend oneself against terrorism.» Somehow, divine mercy—the «very essence of the messianic message»—is compatible with a far-flung military action in the name of justice. Pacifism is not a necessary consequence of the imitation of God’s mercy. Providence allots each person’s responsibilities differently—some are responsible for the fate of nations.3

Killing terrorists is an example of “‘negative mercy” which is “the refusal to do, to this particular person, a terribly damaging thing that strict justice would let us do, and yes, at times, we could refrain from showing [a positive] mercy … without being guilty of injustice…

A mercy-driven response to others by us is more about offenders as persons, rather than their behavior or action. 

A mercy-driven response is also more about us—at least, those of us who are not direct or proximate victims—insofar as mercy raises the question of what we can and should do to respond to others in their need.’”4

In other words, forgiveness and mercy are reparative, because they address the negative in what has been called “the universal disaster of sinful brokenness.”5

Or Jesuit priest James Keenan’s wonderful description of mercy. He defines mercy as ‘entering into the chaos of another person’s life.’

Mercy and Justice met at the Cross, as the Penitential prayer says:

Kyrie eleison. The Greek term eleos is the root of the word elaion which refers to the healing oil of the olive (elaia) tree. Much of Christian prayer can thus be seen as a supplication for an outpouring of the balm of God’s healing love.

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Showing mercy finds its completion in the recipient.

The promise is not a closed circle. We never stop needing mercy for ourselves.

1. Carol Menges, Justice and Mercy, Song Arising, 06/2/2018 

2.  Anthony Mifsud SJ, The Imperative Need to Forgive, The Way 01/01/2009

3. Daniel P. Moloney, The Tribunal of Mercy, First Things, Date: January 1, 2003

4. Blake 2020, 211cited by Darlene Fozard Weaver, The End(s) of Mercy, Journal of Religious Ethics, 01/01/2020

5. Leslie Levland Fields, Christianity Today, 01/01/2014 2014