Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mercy's Moment

On the day of then canonization of St. John Paul, who instituted today as Divine Mercy Sunday, and the controversy over Pope Francis's reported phone calls allegedly giving a woman married to a divorced man permission to resume reception of the Eucharist.

First, I think it is important to remember that it is likely Holy Father likely spent more time in prayer and consideration of this situation than all the people commenting on it combined.

Second, I think there can be a gap between written policy and pastoral action.  If there is some good served by having her refrain from communion for several more years it escapes me, and I can imagine many benefits. I'm sure these disciplines are not consistently applied, and I'm OK with that.

Third, I understand it's not so simple when it is the Bishop of Rome delivering the dispensation, and why some are concerned.  Everything the Holy Father done is seen as a sign of hope for long awaited change by some and a sign that things are falling apart by others, with both sides fanned by a press sometimes eager for the Church to move in a particular direction, or have its voice (further) diminished, or just to see a good fight.

Last week, Joe Posnaski had an article about pine tar being found on Michael Pineda, that the obviousness of the pine tar made it impossible for the umpires to ignore.  I found myself nodding along -- how often we substitute foolish consistency for common sense?  The first comment is this anecdote:

Something else to consider is this. Ron Luciano said that when he would go to check Gaylord Perry, Perry would say, “Don’t look on my right shoulder.” And Luciano would let him off the hook. Why? Maybe he didn’t want the confrontation–but when you consider that league presidents and now the commissioner have, historically, been total wusses in the hip pocket of the owners (or they have been gone FAST), why should the umpire not expect to get crucified if he interferes with a player? When it’s obvious, yes, it’s unavoidable. When it’s not, well, not only might you not want to know, but how DO you know?
And we see the problem with "common sense" -- that it can often be a cover for cronyism and prejudice. Gaylord Perry, Hall of Famer, 300 game winner, Cy Young Award Winner, could do this. Could Pineda have gotten away with this?  Or Don Newcombe in his rookie year?  I'm doubtful.

Same thing goes for us.  We might hope to find a friendly cop if we get behind the wheel after a couple drinks, but would a poor, nonwhite person receive the same mercy?

And maybe that's what the Holy Father is trying to teach us.  That we can hold fast to our values and principles, but be merciful in applying those to others.  And that, this mercy needs to benefit the poor and disadvantaged, not those already enjoying other great privileges.
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