Bonhoeffer was among the first to criticise the Third Reich and was in the United States when the Second World War broke out. He returned to his homeland to suffer with his people. Conscious of the risk, he faced it in a spirit of freedom and with a strong sense of justice. A theologian and Lutheran pastor, he died at a concentration camp in Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945 after being condemned for his opposition to the Nazi regime. We remember him with some of his thoughts on mercy published in “La fragilità del male, raccolta di scritti inediti”.
“Each day the Christian community sings: ‘I have received mercy.’ I have obtained this gift even when I closed my heart to God: when I took up the path of sin; when I loved my faults more than God; when I encountered misery and suffering in exchange for what I had done; when I was lost and was not able to find the path of return.
Therefore, it was the word of the Lord that came out to meet me. Therefore, I understood: He loves me. Jesus has found me: he was near to me, only Him. He gave me comfort, forgave all my errors and did not find me guilty of evil. When I was his enemy and did not respect his commandments, he treated me like a friend. When I did him wrong, he returned to me only goodness.
He did not condemn me for my misdeeds, but unceasingly sought me out and without rancour. He suffered for me and died for me. He put up with everything for me. He won me. The Father had found his son again. We think of all these things when we intone that song. I can hardly fathom why the Lord loves me in this way, why I am so dear to him. I cannot understand how he managed to and wanted to win my heart with his love, all I can say is: ‘I have received mercy.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, La fragilità del male, raccolta di scritti inediti (Piemme, 2015)