Fathoming God’s mercy PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 October 2015 10:42



Pope Francis has been talking, almost ad nauseam, about mercy and compassion. That seems to be the distinctive thrust of his pontificate, and it is taking the world by storm.

That’s because people today appear to be tired of hearing what is right and wrong, and more so when they are told off with condemnations and anathemas. They prefer to hear consoling words of mercy and compassion, and the Pope is giving these to them in abundance and with a flair for drama.

I remember an Arab acquaintance who is not Catholic but is married to one. He told me that he liked Pope Francis a lot because the Pope is succeeding in relating himself well with the ordinary people in the rawness of their actual conditions.

This Pope, he said, talks to the heart of the people. He does not scare them with highfalutin ideas, my Arab acquaintance continued. He seems to have a likeable heart without detracting, of course, from the brain, the Arab opined.

I must say that I felt a bit uncomfortable with these observations, because in the first place I don’t like to compare Popes. I strongly believe that each has his own charism, given by God for the good of all, and has been chosen to address a particular need in some period of the life of the Church.

I believe that the differences among the Popes are not supposed to lead us to make judgments as to whether who is better than the other, etc. I consider such exercise idle and dangerous.

Of course, I agree that Pope Francis has managed to move many hearts once frozen into indifference if not unbelief and hostility. But we also have to listen to some sectors that have certain reservations about this style of Pope Francis. Some of these reservations are even expressed by highly placed ecclesiastics who are equally concerned about what is truly good for the Church.

There are those who say that this emphasis on mercy and compassion tends to undermine truth and justice, that is, the very teaching of Christ himself. That delicate issue, for example, of allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion—an issue that was taken up in the recently concluded synod—is a case in point.

To this fear expressed by some, the Pope has reassured us that nothing of the sort is happening or is going to happen. He will stick to what the previous Magisterium has already taught and explained. He will be faithful, but at the same time open to new things, as the Spirit prompts.

This is what I think the Holy Father is trying to accomplish. He is asking us to fathom some more the scope and range of God’s mercy and compassion that obviously will involve a lot of mystery that we need to unravel little by little. We have to be ready for the God of surprises also.

This, of course, is not going to be an easy task. It will demand a lot of sacrifice, and prayer, and study and discussion and consultation, etc. That’s why the Pope called for a synod, for one, and has been asking everyone involved to open up with what he called as parrhesia, that is, with candor.

This is what is needed these days. We cannot be complacent with what we, as of now, know is right and is clearly part of the will of God for us. Let’s remember that what we know, even if we consider it already to be very significant, is nothing compared with what we still do not know, and much less, live. We should never be self-satisfied.

Let’s put complete trust in the thrust of Pope Francis. He wants us to be bold and most prompt to discern the biddings of the Holy Spirit who obviously can lead us to new horizons, new frontiers and to still uncharted waters.

Obviously, this exercise has to be done with utmost care and caution, and out of prudence, should somehow be restricted and limited first to those who truly are competent to handle it.

It’s not for everyone to take active part, as of now.

Perhaps what everyone else can do to help is to pray and offer a lot of sacrifices, and of course to do some study also so we can be more enlightened about the issues involved.

Perhaps, this is where I can put my two-cents—that Pope Francis also would be more circumspect in making pronouncements so as to avoid unnecessarily stirring the fears of some sectors that are not yet ready to embark in this divine adventure.