One of the most pressing questions confronting anyone searching for truth is why, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists, does he allow great evil — or any evil — to exist.
Volumes have been written about the problem of evil. The answer is simple, yet complex. The simple answer is one word: love. God gave us the incredible gift of free will—the ability to freely choose him or to freely reject him. He loves us that much. He could have pre-programmed us to adore him, but that’s not what love is.
The answer is complex because God’s gift of free will has incredible consequences. One of them is great evil like the Holocaust of World War II or the abortion holocaust of our day — nearly 60 million American babies murdered since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Free will gave us men like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin — and atrocities like those committed by ISIS.
When confronted by such evil, we cry to God, begging him to stop evil dead in its tracks. The way I look at it, He gives us two responses. “I did stop it — at the Cross.” Christ’s death and resurrection stopped evil dead. Satan is one day closer to his end now than he was yesterday. The second response is the tougher one: “You do something about it.” Faithful Christians are called to be leaven in the world. We’re called to break the cycle of hatred and revenge. We’re called to help Jesus stop evil dead. We’re called to end evil regimes by force if necessary. But most of all, we’re called to mercy.
Jesus told St. Faustina in the 1930s that she was to prepare the world for his final coming. He also told her that this is the time of great mercy. So it’s no surprise that Pope St. John Paul II called the day he canonized her the greatest day of his life. And it’s no surprise that Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of his predecessors by calling a Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Lent is a great time to start flexing our “mercy muscles.” This jubilee year has a twofold call: Confession and pilgrimage. During Lent, let’s focus on forgiveness. Start by going to Confession a few times — maybe every other week. Then listen. Ask God to show you where you can forgive, where you can heal broken or rocky relationships. Ask him to show you where you need to forgive yourself. Then watch evil begin to flee because Satan hates humility.
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.