INVITATION TO REPENTANCE

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

SYNODOS
(Part 31)

INVITATION TO REPENTANCE

February 15, 2015

Today’s psalm:  Psalm 32:1-11

The buzz words in the debate on how to reach out to those Catholics who are in cohabitation, in irregular unions and in same-sex relationships, are “mercy and compassion.” Liberals in the Church are willing to bend backward with Church law (and Christ’s teaching) in order to show mercy and compassion. The basic argument is: these Catholics are in the peripheries, outside the embrace of the Church, so how can we bring them in?

First, yes, just like Jesus, we must always show mercy and compassion. Then yes, the Church must be a mother who reaches out to all her children to bring them back to the fold. But no, this cannot be in conjunction with tolerating sin.

Why are such Catholics in such situations after all? “Many are the sorrows of the wicked one” (v.10a). Cohabitation, divorce and non-sacramental remarriage and same-sex relationships are all sin, they are evil. Such acts are to be condemned. But we still reach out to such Catholics. With mercy. But mercy is an invitation to repentance, to return to the Lord, not to persist in one’s sin. “Blessed is the one whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.” (v.1). Mercy is not just about our act towards others, but about one’s own responses. And thus, “mercy surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” (v.10b).

The liberals in the Church just want to extend mercy and compassion without the corresponding repentance on the part of the other. They do not want to talk about sin or be condemning. But that will not solve the other’s sinful situation. That will not truly bring them back. That will just manifest acceptance of their sin, and they will continue in darkness. They thus receive false mercy. What actually needs to happen for them? “Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide.” (v.5a). They need to repent.

So what should the Church do? It is not to not speak of sin and just be merciful. It is rather to be merciful by speaking the truth about sin, but also teaching that God is merciful and compassionate, and will always accept the repentant sinner back. We should speak clearly about truth and righteousness while showing mercy and compassion. “I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel with my eye upon you.” (v.8).

False mercy is not the way. Not talking about sin is not the way. Rather, the way to experiencing the true mercy and compassion of God is repentance and righteousness. This is the only way back. “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; exult, all you upright of heart.” (v.11).

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