Friday, July 16, 2004

JUSTICE AND MERCY
Following is my post to this thread about what I think the fundamental stumbling block in these discussions is:

think Tom hit on what is an underlying assumption, in that in order to offer a just punishment we must be angry. I think the fear is that if we give up our anger, we won't be able to inflict the punishment that justice demands.

Anyone who's ever been goaded into a fight with someone he did not really want to hurt knows that it's a recipe for disaster.

So, we stoke our anger. We look at the videos of the planes crashing into the buldings over and over. We demand that the news broadcast the decapitation of Charlie Berg. When the American bishops seem to have straightened things out, or at least are getting better at hiding the bodies, we look across the ocean for more tales of episcopal wrongdoing.

And it's understandable. We've been hurt before. We assumed these were good people and got burned.

Can we be vigilant without anger?
Can we deliver justice without anger?

I think that's the fundamental question in play here. If the answer is "no," then efforts to keep our anger burning may be justified. If the answer is "yes," then they're not.

In my opinion, the Gospel points to an answer of "yes." Justice and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive.

This teaching, as Mark likes to say, is more scandalous than any of the secual teaching (or the teaching that Friday is a day of fasting and penance, which runs directly into the current of our culture.)
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