Chicago's Cardinal Cupich on a mercy bender? Ignores the other side of Jesus. Two sides to the Savior, however . . .
Jesus had much to say by way of conversation-stoppers. Would be imprudent to ignore them . . .
Neither is it good to parrot a fellow outlier cardinal. So much for impudence in so categorizing a prince of the church.
At issue is this cardinal’s Chicago Catholic column this week, where he hits the mercy chord often enough to drown out “hard sayings” attributed to Jesus.
These are what would stop Peter in his tracks. Hard to believe (understand), he said often enough, to which Jesus: “Will you also go away.” To which Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go. You have the way to eternal life.”
In other words, it was Jesus’ way or the highway, even as he forgave penitents right and left, knowing what was in their hearts, telling them, “Go thou and sin no more.” He was not on a feel-good romp but a mission that would lead Him to death.
No more than his Father in heaven, creator of heaven and earth, who made people who could ignore Him and do what they pleased.
We all have a record in that respect, with much to live down. “Even I could go to hell,” long-time Jesuit friend Bob told me in conversation mere weeks before his death.
I had told him of a piece I’d had in National Catholic Reporter some years back noting facetiously that Vatican Council 2 had done away with mortal sin, in that no one held back from Communion any more, whereas before the council any number might do so on any day.
Bob objected strenuously to joking about it. To him it was a matter of ignoring “the seriousness of life.” From a Jesuit on his last legs, that’s the kind of remark that sticks.
He knew he was slipping away, I sensed it. (I think I did). Anyhow, he was soon gone, and I had something else important to remember him by — besides his own memorable self.
A reading for the recent 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time can serve as a rich sample of Jesus delivering hard sayings, laid out by Matthew in his 5:17-37, offered here from the interesting Immersive Prayer pages as meditation material:
The Law and the Prophets
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.