Sunday, March 30, 2008

have mercy on us, and on the whole world

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Justice or mercy?
Forgiveness or retribution?

My young adult children and I have been discussing these issues the past few days. The circumstances of our lives have brought us once again to that place where these questions are no longer theoretical.

You don't need to know the details to know that you, too, have been there. If we are forgiven, does that mean there are no consequences for us to bear? If we show mercy to someone, does it mean that he has not hurt us? Are there times when we must use our authority to bring justice to a situation? If we do this, does it mean we are not accepting the attempts of a repentant heart?

I don't know. The older I get, it seems, the duller I get. Life was easy when answers were black and white. Now that I can see clearly the vast grey universe, I know that sometimes it is difficult to choose "the right thing to do."

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, of course, a good time to ponder these things. I know I should err on the side of mercy, right? I should make exceptions for others, ignore their faults, and mercifully forgive their transgressions. But what if their sins are hurting me? What if they're hurting themselves? If I show mercy to them, am I not holding them sufficiently accountable? And if I am strict in my observance of rules, am I nothing but a Pharisee?

No clear answers here, just the earnest longings of a mother who loves her children. I hope they will forgive me as I mess up in their parenting, as that's a given. In balancing mercy and justice, I'll try to measure with the same scale that I hope will be used on my judgment day. One heavily weighted with mercy, with just the right amount of justice, meted out with purest love.

3 comments:

Anne Marie said...

The issue of enforcing the rules verses compassion is difficult as an employer too. I don’t have children to wrestle it out with, but as an employer I struggle with the question of when is a little leeway called for verses when is someone simply insubordinate or oppositional out of choice. Then there are issues of personality and issues of the impact of one person’s choices or behaviors on the rest of the organization and my response to those choices and the impact of that on the organization. And then that gets me to thinking, what would it have been like if we simply hadn’t eaten the apple?

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

Amen!

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