DIVINE MERCY, GOD LOVE AND TOUGH LOVE
A friend whose son has been addicted to drugs for nearly 20 years recently shared how well he is progressing in the process of rehabilitation. After many years discovering a “half-way house” has been of enormous help. The programme she has been committed to is called Tough Love, a unique expression of mercy as parents are supported in enforcing certain conditions which require the addict to take responsibility for their actions, so not “bailing them out” constantly. Is there some similarity with the story of the Prodigal Son, who in to-day’s society would most likely be a druggie? The Father watches and waits patiently for his son.
At other times tough love can also mean taking action that can be difficult and harsh. A landmark ruling in the Constitutional court that President Zuma and the National Assembly acted unlawfully in not conforming to the Public Prosecutor’s report in addressing costs of upgrades to the President’s Nkandla home was instigated by opposition parties. Naturally there are many ramifications to this. However this process was conducted to uphold justice, the rule of law and respect for the Constitution and for democracy. Where would mercy feature in this and in the many everyday life situations we face when accosting wrong-doing or in religious terms, sin? Is our desire not for punishment and revenge as well as for justice?
In THE FACE OF MERCY No 19 Pope Francis directs an invitation to conversion to “those whose behaviour distances them from the grace of God.” He refers to those involved in criminal organisations, and those who perpetrate or participate in corruption, calling it a festering wound and a grave sin because it threatens the very foundations of personal and social life, trampling on the poorest of the poor. But he writes, “I beg them to change their lives. I ask them this in the name of the Son of God who, though rejecting sin, never rejected the sinner.”
“Merciful like the Father” is our challenge. We ask ourselves if we believe that mercy only applies when a sinner acknowledges sin and seeks forgiveness, of God and of us. Pope Francis reminds us that God is always ready to forgive. “God does not deny justice. He rather envelopes it and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice.” FM21 A desire for The Sacrament of Reconciliation can in a sense be the “half-way house.” Pope Francis continues, “ God forgives our sins which he truly blots out, and yet sin leaves a negative effect on the way we think and act. But the mercy of God is stronger than even this. It becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who, through the Bride of Christ, his Church reaches the pardoned sinner and frees him from every residue left by the consequences of sin, enabling him to grow in love.” FM22. Such God Love is Divine Mercy, the experience and mission of St Faustina, remembered on this Divine Mercy Sunday with a focus on the Mystery of Redemption as the greatest Revelation of Divine Mercy. May she intercede for us to grow into this unwavering trust in his love. FM 24 TR