Dives in Misericordia. The second encyclical by Pope John Paul II was issued on November 30, 1980. With this document which centered on the theme of mercy, John Paul II hoped to underline this strongest attribute of God and to draw the world to the mercy which humanity is in so much need of.
In The Mercy of God John Paul II continues his discussion of world problems which he began in his first encyclical, Redeemer of Man, teaching that love informed by God's mercy is the only response to these situations. He appeals to the world to turn to the mercy of the Father, and to find in God's love a refuge from the impersonal, technology-driven world they live in.
He states that many today aren't comfortable with mercy because it implies forgiveness, which in turn implies that an error or sin has been committed. People find it humiliating to ask for mercy. Using the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son as a central theme, Pope John Paul II examines the role of mercy-both God's mercy, and also the need for human mercy-focusing on the interior need of the son that brought about his desire for reconciliation with the father. The father, rather than merely insisting on justice, welcomed him with love and mercy. Mercy does not humiliate, but rather gives people new value.
The paschal mystery uncovers the depth of God's love. In the redemption is demonstrated the fullness of justice and of love. Believing in Christ crucified means to believe that love is present in the world and is stronger than any kind of evil in individuals, society, or the world. It is the touch of the Father on the most painful wounds of humanity. Through the Eucharist and in the sacrament of Penance, the Church brings us ever nearer to the mercy revealed by Christ. By proclaiming mercy, the Church desires to offer the world, which has lost a sense of mercy, a path to the God of mercy so that his love may be shown to be present in the world and equal to any and all of the ills that plague humanity in the post-modern era.
The encyclical The Mercy of God provides the profound theological framework for the Devotion to Divine Mercy, based on the revelation of Jesus to Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska. John Paul II extended the feast of Divine Mercy to the entire Catholic Church on April 30, 2000, the day he canonized Saint Faustina. The Feast of Divine Mercy is celebrated on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday).