11/21/2016, 19.17
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The everyday time of Mercy

by Bernardo Cervellera

The apostolic letter "Misericordia et miserable" shows how to pour out the "extraordinary" Jubilee into  everyday life. The need to energize the world with the experience of mercy in order to heal grief and despair. No mention of illegal Chinese bishops. Everything comes back to the "center" of Christianity, which is the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. A turning point to relaunch society and dialogue between the conservatives and progressives within the Church.

Rome (AsiaNews) - There are no spectacular revelations,  colossal projects or astounding ideas in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Yet in the most commonplace of fashions,  "Misericordia et miserable" shows us exactly how the "extraordinary" may flow into our "ordinary" life and mercy, so absent from our world, can return to the everyday witness of Christians to help form a society in need of a "culture of mercy".

The idea that compassion, tenderness, attention to the poor and the sick should energize our everyday life is an obvious necessity to the naked eye. The more our world becomes globalized and flooded with communication technologies, the more every human being seems to have become an island or at most living on parallel planes, so that the poor and the rich, the healthy and the sick, the refugees and resident have lost the capacity to wonder. This ocean of indifference seems to breed "forms of sadness and loneliness in which people fall, and even many young people" (n. 3)”.

The Church needed to rediscover that mercy which clothes the "nakedness" of sin and human misery: a need that emerged during the Synod on the New Evangelization, that photographed the lives of Christians as devoted to work and to discussing the consequences of Christianity, forgetting its very origin. Thanks to Pope Francis - who incorporates the work of John Paul II and Benedict XVI - God's mercy pulls us back toward to the center of the faith and its life’s breath.

Thus, it is far from surprising that the pontiff should point to the traditional elements of common faith as precious jewels: the Mass, the sacraments, the Word of God, the homily. In this regard, a professor of communications recently pointed out that nowhere in the world is there an organization similar to the Catholic Church that can boast such a vast and captive audience as the faithful who go to Mass on Sundays: if - as the Pope maintains - the homily is a testimony of the priest, a help to communicate to the faithful "the certainty that God loves us."

Some new features are introduced: The faculty to absolve from the sin of abortion extended to all priests; the validity of the sacraments for priests belonging to the Society of Pius X; special celebrations of God's Word; the World Day of the Poor. But these do not have a bombastic tone: They are offered  to the freedom and change of heart, to the hands of every believer and every person  to be "crafted".

In this sense, even if it mentions age old forms of poverty - hunger, thirst, disease, illiteracy - and the new forms such as not knowing God ( "the greatest poverty and the greatest obstacle to the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of human life", n. 18), there are no appeals to states, governments, international organizations: everything is proposed to the freedom of every man or woman, and especially to Christians who can catalyze societies so that such plans and projects do not remain “a dead letter”.

There is no trace of the problem of illicit bishops in China, which some commentators had predicted. Nor is there any attempt at a rational solution to the issues that have been debated during the Jubilee: how to reconcile mercy and justice; indissolubility of the sacrament and communion for divorced ... On the whole response is offered that is first that of moral law and then of intellectual elaboration. This "first" is actually a "center": " Here what is central is not the law or legal justice, but the love of God, which is capable of looking into the heart of each person and seeing the deepest desire hidden there; God’s love must take primacy over all else"(n. 1).

There is enough space to seek a Catholic way that pulls together mercy and justice, attention to the concrete God and the concrete person ( "you do not meet sin and judgement in the abstract, but a sinner and the Savior", n. 1 ).

Perhaps this "center" will open the doors to a dialogue between those who have become "the opposing sides" in the Church, that of the so-called "traditionalists" who defend a cold "justice" and that of liberals, who advocate a "mercy" without any drama.

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