Saturday, April 10, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday: the scandal of Divine Mercy

Is it purely by coincidence that the uproar around the world against the mishandling of decades-old cases of sexual abuse rears its ugly head in Passiontide and Easter? I think not.

Human nature has not changed. The evil of violent hatred is aroused by the mercy of Jesus Christ, present in His Mystical Body, the Church today as much as on the via crucis in Jerusalem on the day of the Lord’s Passion and death so many years ago. Those columnists and newspapers, television news outlets and others, who passionately position themselves as the righteous defenders of abused persons need to ask themselves: Where were you in 1975, or 1985 or 1995 or 2005, when these alleged cases of malfeasance could have been pursued with full rigor — and with greater effectiveness when any alleged malefactors involved would have still been alive to face justice?

The record shows, for those interested in the truth, that it was Benedict, known then as Cardinal Ratzinger, who was in the forefront of those within the Church who were cleaning up the filth despite great opposition from others also within the Church. But the evil of hatred on the part of these media personnel and so many others prevents them from critical objectivity and discredits the campaign for justice they endlessly pursue with shoddy research and erroneous information they have cut and pasted from other equally unreliable sources.

It is the mercy of Jesus Christ in His Church — for both victims of abuse and abusers, for clergy and laity, for bishops and priests — that scandalizes these haters the most. It is a faithless lack of mercy that attacks Cardinal Ratzinger, if what is alleged is indeed true, for allowing an aged and dying priest, certified to be no longer a threat to young people, to finish out his days with an opportunity to avail himself more thoroughly of the Lord’s mercy if he indeed judged that such a decision best reflected both God’s justice and mercy.

“It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal — so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1851). The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and the source of the mercy of God: “Thus a true filial spirit toward the Church can develop among Christians. It is the normal flowering of the baptismal grace which has begotten us in the womb of the Church and made us members of the Body of Christ. In her motherly care, the Church grants us the mercy of God which prevails over all our sins and is especially at work in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With a mother’s foresight, she also lavishes on us day after day in her liturgy the nourishment of the Word and Eucharist of the Lord” (CCC, n. 2040).

Hatred is an evil which blocks and denies the mercy of God in Jesus Christ who only has the power to vanquish this and every evil in and through His Sacrifice on the cross. Hatred is overcome only through the grace of forgiveness. “Now — and this is daunting — this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to His grace” (CCC, n. 2840).

The Lord lives out His Passion here and now in the life and grace of the universal Church. Evil continues to show its face in the violence of murderous hatred on the part of many who have vociferously attacked the Holy Father and the Church in recent weeks. Let us pray for Pope Benedict who will one day face God and who will ask him if he stood up for and proclaimed God’s mercy for every human person, without exception: both for persons guilty of the very great evil of sexually abusing others and for those persons who have suffered abuse of every kind. He will be judged as the vicar of Divine Mercy also for the sake of the irresponsible who repeat the erroneous gossip of dominant opinions in their assault against Jesus Christ once again truly present in His Church. And he will also be called to account for justice and mercy in regard to those with power in the Church who may have failed to do all in their power to protect children and young persons from those whom evidence showed to be guilty of the sin of abuse.

Divine Mercy is a scandal to unbelievers today as it has always been. Let us pray for mercy for the whole world, that agents of hatred will lay down their arms and use their power instead to sow peace and solidarity among nations and peoples and refuse any longer the sin of inciting the evil of murderous hatred against Jesus Christ, truly present in the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church, and actively pouring out the infinite graces of His Divine Mercy for us and for the whole world.

In God love mercy and justice are never mutually exclusive. Let us pray for our Holy Father Benedict, that he may ever grow in the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ, our Divine Mercy who is also the Just One. Let us pray for ourselves that, as one with the Holy Father and the universal Church, we may spread the "scandalous" and wonderful merciful love of Jesus Christ every day and in every way.

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen.”

(For daily reflections on the Scriptures of Holy Mass and the Catechism, visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.)

This column was published in the 8 April 2010 issue of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Visit the website by clicking here for more information about subscribing to the electronic or print editions of The Wanderer.

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