Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life

Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life


author/Cardinal Walter Kasper

Pain and suffering have been universal human experiences since our beginning. All religions ask, in one way or another, where suffering comes from, why it exists, and what it means. They ask where we can find the strength to endure. They ask for deliverance from it. This is no less true today. The twentieth century saw brutal totalitarian regimes; two world wars; as well as the genocide, concentration camps, and gulags all resulting in the death of tens of millions of people. In the twenty-first century we have the threat of ruthless terrorism, outrageous injustice, abused and starving children, millions of people in flight, increasing persecution of Christians, and devastating natural catastrophes. With this in mind, it is difficult for many people to speak of an all-powerful and simultaneously just and merciful God. Why does God permit all of this? In Mercy, the important new book praised by Pope Francis, Cardinal Walter Kasper examines God's mercy while holding these devastating facts and questions in hand. He looks at empathy and compassion as a starting point for theological reflection on the topic. He continues by reflecting upon the following: What does it mean to believe in a merciful God? How are divine mercy and divine justice related? How can we speak of a sympathetic--that is, a compassionate--God? Can undeserved woe and divine mercy be brought into harmony with one another? He likewise seeks to address the ethical questions that similarly arise: How can we measure up to the standard of divine mercy in our own actions? What does the message of mercy mean for the practice of the church and how can we cause the central message of God's mercy to shine in the life of Christians and the church? What does this message mean for a new culture of mercy in our society? These considerations of mercy lead to the fundamental questions of theology. In this work, Kasper combines theological reflection with spiritual, pastoral, and social considerations on this essential topic at a crucial time.


Translator's Preface -- Foreword -- I. Mercy: A Crucially Relevant, but Forgotten Topic -- 1. The Cry for Mercy -- 2. Mercy: A Fundamental Issue for the Twenty-First Century -- 3. Mercy: Criminally Neglected -- 4. Mercy under Ideological Suspicion -- 5. Empathy and Compassion: A New Approach -- II. Approximations -- 1. Philosophical Approaches -- 2. Exploring the History of Religions -- 3. The Golden Rule: A Common Point of Reference -- III. The Message of the Old Testament -- 1. The Language of the Bible -- 2. The Divine Response to Chaos and the Catastrophe of Sin -- 3. The Revelation of God's Name as Revelation of Divine Mercy -- 4. Mercy as God's Inscrutable and Sovereign Otherness -- 5. The Mercy, Holiness, Justice, and Fidelity of God -- 6. God's Option for Life and for the Poor -- 7. Praise of God in the Psalms -- IV. Jesus' Message of God's Mercy -- 1. Lo, A Rose E'er Blooming -- 2. Jesus' Gospel of the Father's Mercy -- 3. A Merciful Father in the Parables -- 4. Jesus' Existence for Others -- 5. God's Mercy-God's Justice-Our Life -- V. Systematic Reflections -- 1. Mercy as God's Defining Attribute -- 2. Mercy as Mirror of the Trinity -- 3. God's Mercy: Source and Goal of God's Activity -- 4. God's Universal Salvific Will -- 5. Jesus' Heart as the Revelation of God's Mercy -- 6. The God Who Mercifully Suffers with Us -- 7. Hope for Mercy in the Face of Innocent Suffering -- VI. Blessed Are They Who Show Mercy -- 1. Love: The Principal Christian Commandment -- 2. Forgive One Another and the Commandment to Love One's Enemies -- 3. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy -- 4. No Laissez-Faire Pseudomercy! -- 5. Encountering Christ in the Poor -- 6. Mercy as Christian Existence for Others -- VII. The Church Measured by Mercy -- 1. The Church: Sacrament of Love and Mercy -- 2. The Proclamation of Divine Mercy -- 3. Penance: The Sacrament of Mercy -- 4. Ecclesial Praxis and the Culture of Mercy -- 5. Mercy in Canon Law? -- VIII. For a Culture of Mercy -- 1. The Size and Parameters of the Modern Social Welfare State -- 2. The Continuation of the Church's Social Teaching -- 3. The Political Dimension of Love and Mercy -- 4. Love and Mercy as the Source of Inspiration and Motivation -- 5. The Societal Significance of the Works of Mercy -- 6. Mercy and the Question of God -- IX. Mary, Mother of Mercy -- 1. Mary in the Gospels -- 2. Mary in the Faith of the Church -- 3. Mary as Archetype of Mercy -- Notes -- Index of Names.
Binding: Hardcover  270pp.
Pub Date: May 01, 2014
ISBN: 0809106094    EAN: 9780809106097