Dear friends in Christ,
Sometimes it might seem as though our Catholic faith is built upon contradictions. Here we are in the middle of Pope Francis’ “Year of Mercy” (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016), in which we often hear the Pope asking us to forgive almost “no matter what”. He says: “Mercy, this is the name of God”. And that is very good. But what then are we to make of Jesus’ statement in our Gospel that for the irresponsible “servant” one unexpected day the servant’s master will arrive and he “will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful”?
I think the answer is not very complicated. God is always merciful, and the person who asks God forgiveness in this life will never be refused. But God also knows that, like any good mother or father, true mercy doesn’t mean to let everything slide. The child who has not been taught discipline, educated, and encouraged might think his parents were merciful towards him, but he will soon find out that their negligence has dealt him a bad deal: he doesn’t have “what it takes” to succeed in life, and what he thought was a fun-loving adolescence turns out to be a useless one. Parents who are merciful like that are not merciful at all: perhaps through timidity, or laziness, or superficiality, they have failed in one of the most important task that the “Master” has given to them.
True mercy towards others is always patient and understanding, but it is also demanding. It should demand the best of us, because that is what will make us most happy. Being demanding is usually not easy, but true mercy, like love, doesn’t consider if it is hard or easy; it always looks out for what is best for the other.
When Jesus says that to whom much has been given much will be asked, but to those who have been given little, little will be asked. He is saying no more than each one of us must try to live up to the vocation and the circumstances God has given us. True mercy teaches us to be compassionate with each other’s failings, but also to spur on those with whom we live to be the best that they can be. In other words, to not be afraid to work for the true happiness of all.
God bless you and your families,
Fr. Bruce Wren, L.C.