Christ stilling the waves

The Trumpeteer

  • The Quality of Mercy does appear to be strained

    In this Year of Mercy, there seem to be a lot of curious misunderstandings. Do people really understand what Mercy is about? It would appear not. It is certainly not about God covering up our sins and forgetting about them, neither is it about Christ effecting our redemption on the Cross and we can now do anything we want, because he has sorted everything out, nor is it about God’s Mercy without reference to sin. It is sin, Original sin that so to speak calls forth God’s mercy and shows God at his most loving, and lovable. Worse still God is made somehow accountable for the suffering in the World. As Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI said in the recently published interview he gave in the Autumn of last year to Father Jacques Servais S.J. last year; I quote;

    For the man of today, compared to those of the time of Luther and to those holding the classical perspective of the Christian faith, things are in a certain sense inverted, or rather, it is no longer man who believes he needs justification before God, but rather he is of the opinion that God is obliged to justify himself because of all the horrible things in the world and in the face of the misery of being human, all of which ultimately depend on Him.

    Many non-Christians take this view and now very many Christians and very many “educated” Catholics would take this view. The problem with this view is that it is a distortion of reality. We have all become like little Kay in Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen. We have got the splinters from the Devil’s mirror, which fell from the skies, and are now lodged in our hearts. We can no longer see clearly. Everything is distorted, confused, and there is much cynicism; the kind of cynicism which almost destroyed Kay.

    The underlying heresy is an interesting one, and I am not sure that many theologians are addressing it. It is the heresy that as the world is such a wonderful place everyone should enjoy it. This of course is a variation on the Jewish misinterpretation of the Messianic age, which we find in the confrontation between Samuel and the people who demand a king, because they want to be like other nations, namely great and powerful. Thi was taken up by Marx whose earthly paradise is the paradise to which the class struggle looks forward to, and underpins the New World Order. However this view fails to take into account one very important fact. The World is not Paradise and, though according to the Fathers of the Church, it still exists it is still closed to the Human Race. Precisely because Adam fell, the world which we inhabit can never be paradise until the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth. We are redeemed from an eternal banishment from Heaven. This is God’s great Mercy.

    All the Commandments, the Beatitudes and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are but a pale reflection of the Mercy of Christ’s great sacrifice on the Cross. Now it is essential that we are hard headed in all this and do not stoop to the extreme sentimentality and cruel heartless sensuality of our present Western Civilization.

    God did not need to create us. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are eternally self-sufficient, and infinitely happy. They do not need us, they do not need angels or the created Universe. It is out of God’s infinitely creative love that he created angels and men. Everything is a gift, and totally undeserved, but since the fall of Satan, there has been a doubt that God should somehow be giving first the angels more, and the human beings more. God is always being confronted with an amazing and immense ingratitude, and since the 19th century there has been a determination firstly by German liberal theologians, and then sadly by Catholic liberal theologians to diminish Christ’s Divinity, the Redemption, his love, and finally his Mercy. We must face up to the fact that God owes nothing, and does not need us. It is only when we have fathomed that rather unpleasant piece of information that we can appreciate his Mercy. He comes to redeem the human race who for the most part is not remotely bothered with God’s law or his wishes. Sadly human beings simply want a good time. Few want to worship God in Spirit and Truth. They want, as St. Francis de Sales wisely notes, the consolations of God, and not the God of all consolations. Human beings do not realize that the only way to share in God’s eternal love is to follow in the footsteps of Christ, which are marked with his sacrificial blood. We cannot have his Glory without his Cross, and the way we do that is by mirroring his Mercy, that Mercy which suffered all the abuse and sin of Man throughout time, so that many might be saved for eternal happiness. When we contemplate Christ’s life and Passion, then we can understand what mercy requires, and the one thing that is not required is a comfortable life, and a life devoid of suffering or sacrifice, and it is certainly not about making marriage easy, and family life easy, it is about raising these two primordial forms of life to the heroic dimensions of the Holy Family; now that is mercy.

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