(1) Jesus puts a face on God–the face of mercy: ‘hesed’ in the Old Testament, ‘agapé’ in the New Testament.
We need incarnation for revelation to become more than inspiration. As the writer of Hebrews put it, God provided the tangible expression of mercy “in many and various ways” before Jesus, but in the fullness of time God showed the apex of mercy in the Son (1:1).
Throughout the entirety of his life, Jesus exemplified mercy, so that the disciples understood him when he exhorted them to love each other ‘as I have loved you.’ (John 13:34). To be merciful was no abstract concept for them. They knew they were to show mercy like Jesus did, and they had one illustration after another to know what mercy looked like.
Today, we see Jesus’ face of mercy as we read the Gospels. And then, from the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ onward,we see how the early Christians lived mercifully inside and outside the Church. The entire biblical story is the story of mercy.
More than anything else, mercy is the act of showing love to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Mercy requires no pre-requisites before it is given. Mercy demands no responses once it is given. Mercy is love with no strings attached. Mercy is free gift.
Over and over again, the disciples had seen Jesus show this kind of mercy. It was their turn. Now, it is ours.
[Note: the numbers at the beginning of each meditation correspond to the section of the Pope’s document on which it is based]