More on justice and mercy

Further to my last post on justice and mercy:

Coincidentally, I read on Bruce Charlton’s blog this morning about Christian churches which are either inordinately “sweet, broad and submissive,” or inordinately “harsh, narrow and tough”; how both are in error and we need to strike a balance between sweetness and harshness. I agree with that: Christian churches need to preach both mercy and justice, and not predominantly the one or the other.

Bruce acknowledges that most modern churches tend to err in the direction of sweetness, albeit with “other parts of Christianity” erring on the side of harshness. Based on my experience, both what I’ve experienced and what I’ve read about, I have to opine that the latter is quite rare.

I also read this morning about a recent homily of the Pope’s, in which he warns Christians not to become “rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness.” This frightens people, he says, and chases them away. He’s right, of course. Preaching morals without also preaching charity is very unappealing. But I find it baffling that he seems to think the predominant problem in the Church today is excessive moralism!

Practically the only time I hear moral issues preached on at all in church, is when I go to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Otherwise it’s pretty much all “sweet, broad and submissive”, to borrow Bruce’s phrase. (I might add that in the case of the TLM I attend, the moral preaching is certainly balanced with charity.)

Now the Pope could be right, there could be an epidemic of moralistic preaching in the Church, without charity, and I have just managed to miss out on it. But if so, I would like to see some once in a great while in my neck of the woods. Even if it is all harsh and no sweet!

My sense is that it’s no longer a situation where people know right from wrong and just refuse to do right; rather, they don’t know right from wrong in the first place, because nobody’s preaching it. Preaching morals without charity may be bad. But is it any worse than preaching charity without morals?

One thought on “More on justice and mercy

  1. I think the story of the rich man (Mk 10:17-22) is instructive. Here Christ does not abrogate the Commandments. On the contrary, He affirms the general rule that all must obey these. Nor did Christ allow this particular man admittance into heaven with his inordinate attachment to temporal wealth. Rather, Christ “looked on him and loved him.” This is mercy: to seek out a lost sheep, rather than to let it go its own way over the cliff. How is His mercy manifested on this occasion? By instructing this man to repent of his disorder and by showing him how to cure the disorder so that he could be admitted into heaven. God bless!


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