Skip to comments.Beware of Fake Mercy - Behold True Mercy in the Call of St. Matthew
Posted on 07/04/2016 5:44:27 AM PDT by Salvation
This year in particular (the year of mercy), we are summoned to reflect on the concept of mercy. Many think of mercy as an overlooking of sin rather than as a remedy for it. To some, the fact of Gods mercy is a sign that He doesnt care about sin and is content to leave us in it. Those who speak to the reality of mercy are often called harsh, mean-spirited, etc. Many set mercy and sin in opposition to one another.
The Lord Jesus unites these realities together. For the Lord, mercy is necessary because there is sin, not because sin is no big deal. It is because sin is a big deal that mercy is needed and is glorious.
Bishop Robert Barron aptly states, Many receive the message of divine mercy as tantamount to a denial of the reality of sin, as though sin no longer matters. But just the contrary is the case. To speak of mercy is to be intensely aware of sin and its peculiar form of destructiveness (Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism, p. 1).
So mercy does not deny sin; it acknowledges it and supplies an often-challenging remedy. Jesus shows mercy by calling us from our sin and healing us from its effects.
This understanding is evident in the Gospel from Friday (Matt. 9:9-13 – Friday of the 13th week of the year).
As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, Follow me.
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?
He heard this and said,
Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.
Notice three things from this Gospel about the relationship of mercy to sin.
I. In His mercy, Jesus reckons us as sinners and regards us as sick. Jesus states plainly, I have come to call sinners (this means us). He also says that those who are well do not need a doctor, but the sick do (this means us).
We live in times when many have been deceived; they call their sin good and something to be proud of. They say, God made me this way, or God likes me just the way I am. No, to those such as these the Lord Jesus says, You are sick. You are a sinner. An antiphon in the Breviary says, God sees all men as sinners, that he might show them his mercy.
So in His mercy Jesus does not overlook sin or call it something good; he calls it what it is: sin and sickness.
II. In His mercy, Jesus summons us to change. In this Gospel, Jesus calls Matthew away from His tax post. He says, Follow me. The translation is Stop what you are doing, come away from it, and follow me out of here. To the woman caught in adultery He says, Do not sin again. Jesus began His ministry by saying, Repent and believe the Gospel. To repent (metanoiete) means to change, to come to a new and different mind.
The changes Jesus insists upon are too numerous to list in their entirety, but among them are that we become free of vengeful anger, lust, greed, retaliation, and unforgiveness, and that we become more generous, loving, serene, faithful, and trusting.
Thus in His mercy Jesus does not confirm us in our sin; He summons us away from it. He summons us to change and equips us to do so. His merciful call is, Come away from here. Enough of this; follow me.
III. In His mercy, Jesus heals sinners of sin Jesus uses the image of a doctor and states plainly that sick people (sinners) need a doctor. Jesus is that doctor. A doctor does not look at a sick patient and say, Youre just fine the way you are or I affirm you. That would be malpractice. Jesus sees sin for what it is. He calls it such and prescribes the necessary medicines. He will also likely speak to a persons lifestyle and recommend needed changes. This is how a doctor heals.
Jesus invokes the image of a doctor for what he does. He diagnoses and says, This is bad. This is sickness. This is sin. He then applies healing remedies such as the Sacraments, the Holy Liturgy, His Word, the carrying of the cross, active and passive purifications, punishments due to sin, solid moral teaching, and holy fellowship. Like a doctor, Jesus summons us from a bad and unhealthy life to a good and healthy one.
Thus, in his mercy Jesus heals our sins. He does not ignore them or approve them and certainly does not call them good or something to celebrate. In his mercy he heals them, he ends them.
So mercy is not a bland kindness. It is not mere flattery that pretends sin does not exist or matter. Beware of fake, flattering mercy. True mercy says, Sin is awful. Lets get out of here and go to a far better place.
Matthew got up and followed Jesus. How about us?
Monsignor Pope Ping!
Are you on Salvation’s ping list? If not, ask to be put on it. Here is God’s real, chosen Pope for our time. The current elected one is just plain toxic to your spiritual health.
So true! We’ve been reading Salvation’s posts of Msgr. Pope’s prolific writings, and finally went to his parish (where he baptized our granddaughter), We have returned on a few occasions when it’s been possible. For the first time in decades, it feels like being in an honest-to-God Catholic Church (although my husband insists it’s Baptist-Catholic, given the incredible, uplifting music and participation at the predominantly African American congregation).
Sounds as if Msgr. Pope’s congregation is getting great preparation for the Glassy Sea!
8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.
Nelson, Thomas. Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) (p. 1188). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.