Mercy 19: Merciful Morality
“In that day, declares the Lord, you will call me my husband; you will no longer call me my master…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2: 16, 19, 20)
Church needs to be a place of encounter between God and His lepers. We gather to open ourselves to the only One who knows us fully: what we are for and how far we have fallen. Our fellows act as agents of that merciful knowing. All eyes and hearts on Him, we drink in rain from heaven and are cleansed; our diverse affections, like lose wires lashing about, become grounded in the company of the saints.
We then feel the deeper ache. We ache for Him and eat ravenously of the feast He has prepared for us. He gave all and His meal fills all-in-all. We then act according to what we ate. We choose well because the Good chose us and encounters us afresh in His house.
I recently spoke with a fellow father who like me has young adult children. He expressed assurance that his kids were in good hands—God’s hands. He knew this because as adults, his kids had encountered Jesus in His body. One kid said: ‘Dad, I can never be lost to this: I know Jesus is real because He has met me and made me His own. The idea of God has become a living reality, a relationship that I cannot deny.’
My kids similarly have renewed their faith in Christ as adults. They did so through various Christian churches that provided a dynamic context of encounter with the living Christ. One encounter became a series of encounters leading to a marriage of sorts, in which all four allowed Him to be the defining reality of their adult lives.
That marriage with mercy Himself is the foundation of their morality. They make choices about right and wrong based on Him, His merciful presence in their lives. Their understanding of that merciful morality is of course honed and deepened in the context of the Christian fellowship. But the source of their morality is no-one less than Jesus Himself who encountered them and called them, one-by-one, to follow Him.
Prior to becoming Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio wrote about this link between encounter with the merciful God and morality:
‘Everything in our life today, just as in Jesus’ time, begins with an encounter: an encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth…We cannot understand this dynamic of encounter which brings forth wonder and adherence if it has not been triggered by mercy…I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.
In front of this merciful embrace, we feel a real desire to respond, to change, to correspond; a new morality arises. Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, the effort of someone who decides to be consistent and succeeds, a solitary challenge in the face of the world. No. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, unjust mercy…The surprising, unforeseeable, unjust mercy of One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. That is why the Christian concept of morality is a revolution; it is not a never falling down but an always getting up again.’
May our churches become places of encounter between broken ones and their Father, who urges us to get up again in the power of His mercy.
Desert Stream/Living Waters: Midwest: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Laura Leigh Stanlake, Regional Coordinator. Please pray for Laura Leigh as she steps back into her role of regional coordinator after extended time off for family reasons.
Restored Hope Network: Please pray for Executive Director Anne Paulk and all the Board members and their families: Andrew Comiskey, Stephen Black, Robert Gagnon, Denise Schick, Ron Smith and Jason Thompson.
Courage: Please pray for all men and women with SSA to receive the grace to discover and commit to a life of chastity body and soul.
Cor Project: Pray that we would never deny the Lord anything He asks of us.