Letters to the Editor

Mercy

Dear Editor: During this Year of Mercy, I notice that some writers on the subject refer to people who question the role of the Church’s moral laws in the granting of mercy as: disturbed, sad, angry, and similar references. I do not agree with the descriptions.

However, let us assume for a moment that in using such descriptions, the authors have in mind people like the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. In his address entitled “The Greatest Thing in the World,” Henry Drummond describes the elder son as ill-tempered which, he says, is the vice of the virtuous. By refusing to go in to celebrate the return of his younger brother, the elder brother disturbs the happiness of the servants, the guests, the father, as well as the Prodigal.

Drummond adds: “…how many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who profess to be inside?” If the authors are referencing people like the elder brother, I understand.

Still, something nags at me. The Prodigal had the good sense to go home in humility and receive his father’s mercy. He was a likeable fellow and we are happy for him. But what about the unlikeable elder brother, too blind to see the grave danger of his unlovable soul? Do we write him off – excluding him from the kingdom of God?

If not, how do we help him? Does he not need someone to take as much time as necessary to help in his conversion? To befriend him by listening to his complaints, calming his anger, relieving his sadness? Someone merciful?

ANDREA ARCAROLA

Coney Island

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One thought on “Mercy

  1. Why do you take if for granted that those “seeking mercy” do so for honest rather than dishonest reasons? Why do you take if for granted that they are seeking repentance rather than the desire to be affirmed in their defiance of moral truth? Why do you take for granted that those who maintain that mercy should not be abused are guilty of sanctimony?