divine_mercy2Go here to read my article at National Catholic Register on the price of mercy.

I can remember an old gospel preacher saying, “Mercy is free, but it ain’t cheap.”

Like so many of the old-timers, he understood God’s unlimited, unmerited and unconditional mercy, but he also understood that it comes at a price.

The Catholic Church stipulates that an image of the crucified Lord is to be the predominant image near the altar of a church. This is to remind us that “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23) and that the crucified Lord is the one who pays the price of mercy.

The mystery of the cross is the mystery of mercy. Deep within the human heart is a dark twist that inclines us to blame others for what is wrong. Ever since Cain killed his brother Abel, the tendency to shift the blame and then destroy the blameless one has been acted out in human history.

This dark strain in our nature causes us to not only  shift the blame to others, but to judge others and condemn them. “They are the problem,” we often convince ourselves, “and if they are the problem, then they must be destroyed.”

The result of this urge to rush to judgment and project our guilt and blame on another is seen on the cross. There, Jesus accepts the blame with open arms and bears the violence that always accompanies the shifting of guilt. In this one action, he accepts the blame although he is blameless, and this act of mercy opens the doors of mercy for the whole world.

Here is the full article.