Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face German Cardinal Walter Kasper wrote a book titled “Barmherzigkeit” meaning ‘Mercy’ (Herder, Freiburg 2012). On March 17, 2013, in his first midday Angelus message, commenting on the content of this book, His Holiness, Pope Francis said, “A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just”. In fact, our world would not exist if it were not for the mercy of God. On the second Sunday Easter the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of Divine Mercy.

We are familiar with the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-16). The owner of the vineyard pays the same wages to all the workers in spite of the fact that some started working early in the morning, some came in at 9 O’clock, some at noon, some at 3 in the afternoon and some started working as late as 5 in the evening. We find it normal that the workers who toiled the whole day complained, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and scorching heat” (Mt 20:12). In the further conversation between the workers and the owner of the vineyard, it becomes clear that we can only demand justice, not mercy. Mercy cannot be claimed. It is the workers who came in at the beginning of the day who were complaining. If fact, they had no reason to complain for they had received their just wage. In sincerity, we know that all of us are workers who came in late if not very late. We can only be grateful to God for his mercy. God never does injustice; but his mercy is everlasting.

The world survives today because of mercy. Forgiveness is an act of mercy. To the woman caught in adultery Jesus shows mercy. If he were to execute justice, she would have been stoned to death. He instead says, “neither do I condemn you!” (Jn 8:11). Jesus says, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world through him” (Jn 3:17).

The blind beggar Bartimaeus of Jericho calls out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk 10:47). The Canaanite woman pleads, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David” (Mt 15:22). The ten lepers prayed to Jesus, “Jesus, Master, Have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). All of them received mercy when they asked for it, received it in abundance. The difference between those who claim justice before God and those who plead for mercy of God is seen vividly in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14). The Pharisee asked for justice but the tax collector pleaded for mercy. Jesus tells in no unclear terms, “I tell you, this man (tax collector) went down to his home justified rather than the other” (Pharisee).

MUSINGS : 1-25, 26-50, 51-75

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