Friday, July 8, 2016

"Let mercy lead"

It's been one hell of a summer so far, not just in the U.S., but the world over. I use the word "hell" quite deliberately. In the face of all the suffering and death, which makes us feel so powerless, and because we're human beings, we cannot avoid the most human of questions: Why? This question can lead us down a lot initially promising alleys, but sooner or later life has a way of bringing us to an insurmountable wall indicating they are dead ends.

Christ on the Cross is the only remotely satisfactory theodicy ("the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil") I have ever found. But this, too, prompts questions, even deeper ones, but such is- to steal from Von Balthasar - Theo-Logic (God's logic). There are both cultural/contextual as well as trans-cultural reasons Paul insisted that Christ crucified was "a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1:23).

I am always puzzled when Christians insist that mercy is only for the repentant. Mercy is for everyone. I don't know about you, but I want mercy even for the unrepentant. Pope Francis is insistent that The Name of God is Mercy. In other words, God does not withhold mercy from anyone. I suppose it is possible to reject God's mercy. I suspect that for many it's not so much an outright rejection of God's mercy given us in Christ as much as thinking it too good to be true. Hence, those of us who have accepted God's mercy, out of love and in a loving manner, need to demonstrate the reality of this very Good News.

In his magisterial Letter to the Romans Paul noted it is "only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Think about it. It is the greatest act of mercy imaginable. Therefore, it bears up under our heaviest questions. More importantly, the Cross of Christ bears up under our greatest fears, disappointments, and sorrows. Christ crucified is the best proof for the existence of God.

Our traditio for this week, after a two week break, is the late and still dearly missed Rich Mullins: "Let Mercy Lead"

If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

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