End the Year of Mercy?

End the Year of Mercy? July 27, 2016

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I know, I know. You should never read the comments.

But I couldn’t help myself. I’m a rubberneck and I read the comments.

And I got this:

“Wish we could end the Year of Mercy early.”

Oh Lord.

“Father Hamel’s death will unite France and Catholics everywhere to expel Muslims from places they have no business occupying!”
Oh yikes.

For the record, one of those people was an atheist, and the other was, as far as I know, a Catholic, so this is neither a believer’s nor an unbeliever’s problem. It’s a human problem. Humans get angry, often enough at things that are truly unjust, and we want to break them. My daughter leaves her tricycle in the walkway after being asked not to for the third time, and I want to kick it across the yard. My neighbor gets up to mow her lawn early in the morning when I’m trying to sleep, and I fantasize about breaking her lawnmower. The bus drives right past the stop, and who hasn’t dreamed of Hulking out and “catching” it with their bare hands? Your child is bullied, and you’d like to bully the bully for her. We read about a truly horrible injustice, and we are angry at that injustice. We want to make it stop. We want to break it. We may even want to break the faith or the nation in whose name it was done.

I admit I’m angry too. I’d have smiled as I shot the terrorists who murdered Father Jacques Hamel.

Emotions aren’t wrong; it’s only what we do with them that’s wrong. The feeling of wrath is not the sin of wrath. The sin of wrath is to choose to let wrath, rather than love, direct your actions. To break something or someone because you’d like to.

The Catholic Church does not preach total nonresistance or nonviolence. We’re allowed to defend ourselves or others as minimally as is necessary and if we have reason to believe it will work. But we’re not allowed to do this by any means we like. We have to go about it as people of God.  We have to abide by the laws of Just War, even if our enemy does not. We must remember that our enemy is a human being, a child of God, even if our enemy does not think that of us. We cannot stoop to war crimes even if our enemy does. If the choice comes down to our own death or a war crime, we have to choose to lay down our lives.


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