(6) Pope Francis connects God’s mercy and God’s omnipotence. Drawing on the thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas, he writes that God’s most powerful action is the expression of mercy. This is clearly so when we remember that mercy is our word for ‘hesed’ (OT) and agapé (NT).
What this essentially means is that God does not act toward us on the basis of who we are, but rather on the basis of who God is. Because God is love–steadfast love, never-failing love, loyal love–every movement toward us is merciful. Every act is aimed for our good.
Such mercy is powerful precisely because it so often flies in the face of conditions which do not deserve mercy. Our attitudes and actions would justify something from God other than mercy. But we receive mercy anyway!
This amazing grace removes all notions that Christianity is a meritocracy where God blesses those who are “worthy”–those who “toe the mark” and perform up to par according to the rules of a person or group. Mercy is all that keeps any of us in the game (see Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:9, Romans 3:23). Mercy is the basis of hope.
Mercy is the proof that we are in a relationship with One who loves us. Pope Francis puts it this way, “It gushes from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy.” Mercy is not a trickle of love given to us reluctantly by God; it is God’s “Niagra” soaking us 24/7 with a never-ending embrace.
[Note: the numbers at the beginning of each meditation correspond to the section of the Pope’s document on which it is based]