St. John Paul’s Profound Lesson In Mercy, Forgiveness, And Love


A friend of mine, a Catholic priest with whom I am well acquainted through social media, posted a stark, black and white photo yesterday of a 1983 prison meeting between St. John Paul II and his attempted assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca. That meeting was initiated by St. John Paul himself so that he could “pray for my brother . . . whom I have sincerely forgiven.”

(Because of copyright restrictions, I cannot directly post that particular photo here, a commercial blog, without permission or payment. But you are probably familiar with the one to which I am referring. If not, you can click this link, it’s the very first image, or you can view the YouTube video embedded below from

Nearly every time that I am exposed to that haunting image, I am reminded of my own deep failings and limitations.

And there are many.

Do I act, first, with love and mercy in and through all things? Do I continue to welcome those with whom I actively disagree, engaging them with kindness and charity? When I am angered or hurt, do I respond with forgiveness – even when forgiveness is not first sought? (Watch the video below and observe how St. John Paul answers that.)

I well know the answers.

And I am not pleased.

So today, I will take a deep breath, pray a prayer of gratitude, and I will be reminded, once again, of just how fortunate we are that the one in whom we place our trust and faith has no such limitations.

And I am grateful, as well, to St. John Paul for reminding me, so very often, about what it means – and what it costs – to act with unending mercy, eternal hope, unremitting forgiveness, and undying love.


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