Instead of being a Justice and Peace Catholic or a Piety and Purity Catholic we should all be Justice and Mercy Catholics. Justice and Mercy are put together in this phrase to remind us that Justice and Mercy are two sides of the same coin. God’s Justice is Merciful and his Mercy is Just. This is because God’s judgement is a purely righteous judgement. It is both just and merciful at the same time.
The quality of Justice answers every need of the Justice and Peace Catholics while the quality of Mercy answers every need of the Piety and Purity Catholics. Here’s what I mean: the Justice and Peace Catholics see the injustice in the world in many ways. They see those who suffer from economic injustice, racial injustice and sexual discrimination. The see the terrible suffering caused by this injustice. They see the consequences of greed, lust, violence and hatred in the world and want to do something about it. They work to bring justice, but to often they see their campaign only in terms of protest. They want God to judge the evildoers who are not as peace and justice loving as they are. This self righteousness is corrected by Mercy. “Mercy”, Bl. Pope John Paul said, “is love’s second name.” Along with their campaigns for justice they should be longing to be channels for God’s mercy in the world. Then as God’s love and mercy flows through them and they minister to those in need they will, as a consequence, bring about the justice they long for.
The Piety and Purity Catholics, on the other hand, also want Justice. But too often by “Justice” they really mean that they want God to punish all the bad people who are not as pious and pure as they are. Like the Peace and Justice Catholics, the Piety and Purity Catholics also want their enemies to be judged. Mercy is also the answer for them. If they allowed God’s love and mercy to flow from them to all those who are flawed and failed, then their desire for Justice would be met and completed as they exercised mercy.
I hope and pray that these sad divisions in Catholicism are fading away. All Catholics need to seek Piety, Purity, Justice and Peace. All Catholics need to be Justice and Mercy Catholics. With hearts that are open to those who are wounded by injustice–with hearts that are open to those who are wounded by immorality and sin–with hearts that are open to all those in need of justice and mercy–all Catholics should be agents of that Divine love and mercy in the world.
That is our mission, for if we do not exercise that justice and mercy in the world how shall we expect to be granted that same love and mercy in our time of need? For that matter, if we do not exercise that justice and mercy in the world, how shall we expect to receive it at the end of our lives–when justice and mercy will be our only need?