Amoris laetitia PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 14:41

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

That’s “The joy of love” in English, the title of the latest papal document. It summarizes and integrates all the observations, findings and conclusions of the two Synods of Bishops on the family that took place in 2014 and 2015.

More than that, it outlines the papal thrust, and therefore that of the whole Church, on how the pastoral care of the family should be done today. It strikes me as a bold step forward in keeping pace with the current state of family issues, complex and complicated as they are now.

In a nutshell, what it teaches and proposes is to uphold traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and family and also to encourage a new sensitivity, a new dynamism in dealing with the different pertinent issues.

This document has to be read and studied slowly, because the new things and approaches presented in this document can always create some stir in the minds and hearts of some people who are understandably attached to the traditional ways of doing things.

It’s just unfortunate that some groups have immediately taken the occasion to find fault in the document. They have even gone to the extent of saying that Catholics cannot follow some points articulated in the document. Indulging in speculations driven by fear, they dabble in many legalistic and moralistic hair-splittings. Ok, they also need to be heard.

But I find that development disrespectful of the papal office at the least. Any question or complaint they want to raise should, to my mind, be lodged first with the proper office in the Church rather than immediately going public and sowing confusion and distress on the people.

But then again, this development is not surprising at all, because even in the time of Christ, many self-righteous people were always finding fault in his ways of dealing with people who were considered as sinners. Just the same, Christ finally submitted to their schemes, offering his life on the cross, and asked for forgiveness for them.

I believe the problem is how to see the link between God’s abundant and gratuitous love for mankind that is based always on the truth as fully revealed by Christ, on the one hand, and God’s equally abundant and gratuitous mercy for mankind that is also based on the truth as fully revealed and lived by Christ himself, on the other hand.

Many people fail to see this organic shift from divine love to divine mercy. They fail to see that the love that is at the core of the very being of God is translated into mercy when extended to his creatures, especially to us who, of all the creatures, are his masterpiece since we have been created in his image and likeness.

It cannot be any other way. Creatures as we are, we cannot replicate to the full the very love God has within himself, no matter how best we try. We can only approximate it. And it is God’s mercy that can fill up what will always be lacking and missing in our love.

This is not to say that we can flout any of the moral teachings that the Church has so far developed through the ages, based on the teachings and example of Christ himself. It is rather to make some progress in our moral sense by giving more attention to divine mercy as taught and shown by Christ that appears to be ignored up to now.

Christ readily forgave the Samaritan woman with 6 husbands, the woman caught in adultery, the thief who was crucified with him. When he performed miracles, it was not so much to heal those involved of their illness as to forgive them of their sins.

When Christ issued the new commandment of loving one another as he has loved us, I suppose that we have to be as merciful as Christ has been with everyone, even going all the way to accepting the cross, dying on it, and asking for forgiveness for everyone.

That’s the reason why we have to learn to suffer, because suffering will be unavoidable if we truly have to follow Christ.

I suppose we need to identify ourselves more and more with Christ as we try to follow all the moral teachings of the Church. That should be the sensation we feel as we go through studying all the moral doctrine of our Christian faith. We should avoid reducing

Christian perfection into some intellectualism alone. It should lead to a vital identification with Christ.

This way we would be more able to do what the document is suggesting—that we do effective accompaniment and discernment in our relation with everyone.