Spirituality and Ethics
Praying And Living The Beatitudes - Fifth

Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.


“God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us
God brought us to life with Christ when we were dead to sin.”
    -Ephesians 2:4-5

In his Encyclical, “Rich in Mercy,” Pope John Paul II, pointed out that it is in Christ and through Christ that God becomes visible in his mercy. The Pope wrote, “Christ makes (the mercy of God) incarnate and personifies it.”

We see and experience the abundance of God’s love and mercy everywhere – in the beauty of creation, in the wonder of human life, in personal and intimate ways… Who hasn’t experienced the healing touch of God’s forgiveness? Or, been given the grace to forgive another?

The fact that God is so lavish in love and mercy should not lead us into presumption. Taking the mercy of God for granted is not a wise direction. There are necessary steps from wrongdoing to redemption. The Reverend Canon Dr Giles Fraser has some interesting reflections on the behavior of those, for example, who led us into the economic crisis we are experiencing, be they bankers, regulators, politicians, or those who borrowed money knowing that they really couldn’t afford it. He asks the question, ‘Shouldn’t someone at the very least be apologizing for the financial disaster?’

Dr. Fraser suggests three steps toward a meaningful apology:

  • Saying you are sorry and really meaning it.
  • Experiencing shame for the suffering you have caused, shame for the wrong things you have done.
  • Penitence – with this attitude comes the admission of fault, but even more importantly, also the sense that what is needed is a new direction, that things have to change. Penitence is the avenue to real transformation, for the individual and for society’s well being. (The Tablet, 31 January 2009, p. 7)

Repentance involves a change of mind and heart. We hear a lot about the need for transparency these days. Transparency is the only true path to the mercy of God.

There is another dimension to this Beatitude – reaching out to those in need be it financial or otherwise. Mercy here is not to be confused with pity. As Pope John Paul II wrote, “To become an object of pity is to be stripped of dignity and worth. The mercy of God does not degrade people, it transforms them.”

The lesson here is: as we have had our dignity restored by the compassionate love of God, so are we called to reach out to others.

(February 2009 Newsletter)


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Homilies Virtue Ethics The Spirituality of St. Ignatius Ten Ethical Lessons The Our Father The Beatitudes First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh Eighth
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