The murders of men at prayer in the Quebec City mosque showed that Canada is not immune from crimes of hate. In the wake of such events it’s good to be reminded that the Christian answer to hate calls for mercy, forgiveness and love. So I welcomed a recent email that began: “In a world oversaturated with anger, entitlement and judgment, ‘mercy’ is a countercultural, revolutionary belief and way of life.” Its message was about several new documentaries from the Knights of Columbus that “ highlight the transformative power of mercy in our contemporary world.”
The first of these, The Face of Mercy, will be broadcast Sunday night, Feb. 12, on Salt + Light Television (check your local listings).
If the hour-long documentary can be summed up in a phrase, it is that the mission of the church is mercy and that only divine mercy and forgiveness can heal our wounded humanity.
Pope Francis, who proclaimed the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2015, is continuing the legacy of Saint Pope John Paul II and his 1980 encyclical Rich in Mercy. The experience of the Polish church in enduring the horrors of the 20th century produced a deep spirituality that appealed to God’s divine mercy as the antidote to these moral catastrophes.
A notable influence was the Polish nun and mystic Sister Maria Faustina of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, called an “Apostle of Divine Mercy,” canonized by John Paul II in the year 2000.
The film also brings home the Christian call to mercy through the compelling testimonies of people — victims of terrible crimes — who have received the healing power of God’s merciful love. Other examples of transformative grace include a gangster who became a priest and a former sports star who forsake fame to bring the gospel message to the homeless and those on the margins of society. “Blessed are the merciful” is a beatitude that calls to us all.