The vision of Emmaus Journey is to help Catholics grow in their understanding and commitment to sacred Scripture and Church teachings, and to fan into flame people’s commitment to prayer and evangelization. Emmaus Journey contributes to these goals by providing ministry and formation resources, and leadership training for parishes, small-groups, and individuals.
Rich Cleveland's picture

Mercy's Intended Consequence

The tension we feel between justice and grace is something we struggle with throughout our lives. On the one hand we believe that people ought to get what they deserve. People who do evil should receive their just recompense. On the other hand we want those we love to receive mercy and not what their wrong behavior warrants. For instance, my dad spent a life-time struggling with alcoholism. It wrecked his marriage, damaged his family, and made shambles of his life. There is little evidence that he ever took responsibility for what he did, or for the harm he caused by the abuse which stemmed from his alcoholism. But every one of us in the family, though victims of his bad choices, hopes that somehow in the final days of his hospitalisation that he called out to Christ for salvation. We don't want him to receive what he deserves.

The mercy of salvation in Jesus doesn't make sense to the unconverted mind. Sacred Scripture reports that the world will see the simplicity of the Gospel as foolishness. Even for the converted the mystery of salvation can only be understood in part, and so we praise and thank God for the wonders of mercy and grace. It is with this sense of wonder and mystery that we understand Mark 20:1-16. Initially to us, like to those complaining in this parable, it seems unfair that the workers hired in the last hour of the day, should be paid the same wage as those who began at daybreak and worked all day. But a closer reading and reflection enables us to see that it really isn't a matter of fairness but of mercy's generosity. This is especially true when we realize that the parable is an illustration of the way things are different in the Kingdom of Heaven, than they are in the kingdoms of the earth. When we realize what this parable teaches indirectly about our eternal salvation, we can then only respond,  "Hallelujah!".

We learn from Scripture that God's ways are not our ways, and that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We can be thankful for that, for when it comes to eternity who of us wants to receive only that which we deserve? Who of us does not desire to be treated with a more merciful form of justice than that which we see displayed here on earth? Only those persons who are blind observers of their own spiritual shortcomings would want it otherwise. Rather, we long for mercy(God not giving us what we deserve - eternal death) and grace (God giving us what we do not deserve - eternal life). This parable points out that merciful and gracious treatment is exactly what we can count on from our loving Father.

The Scriptures also teach that knowledge of God's love and mercy will have a profound affect on our entire life -- an affect which St. Paul teaches is the intended affect of receiving God's love and mercy; "For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come  to the conviction that one died for all; He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." Understanding God's gracious love will motivate us to live for him, and not for ourselves. When we respond by living only for ourselves it is apparent that we have not yet fully grasped God's love for us.

Essential Discipleship

    What are the essentials of a basic Chrisitian discipleship?

i)  Private Prayer and Private Integrity
ii) Charity and Justice
iii) Involvement Within an Ecclesial Community
iv) Forgiveness and Mellowness of Heart

"Essential Christian discipleship asks that we have a private relationship to Jesus, that our private lives reflect that relationship, that we practice both charity and justice, that we be involved in some ecclesial community, and also that we do all of these things with a mellow forgiving heart ... But we are not as perceptive in seeing the rationalizing suicide bomber inside ourselves when, for the sake of God and truth, our own religious and political discourse is laced with bitterness, anger, jealousy, demonization, lack of respect, lack of graciousness, and lack of elementary Christian and human charity. .... A mellow and gracious heart is not a negotiable Christian virtue. It is an essential demand of Christian discipleship.  
From "Sacred Fire" -- Ronald Rolheiser
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