From Slave To Friend of God: My Son's Story

I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.   John 15:14-15

No one knew better than Christ that the pain against which we so desperately try to numb ourselves, and all the world’s evil, seem to stem from our terrible fear that we are basically unlovable.     Heather King, Holy Desperation: Praying As If your Life Depends On it, 66

Few people I know have experienced the bondage of slavery like my beloved twenty-six year old son, Christian—who has struggled with a life-wrecking addiction for over ten years; an addiction mercilessly driven by a core belief that he is not loved.

But lately, something has changed. Something akin to a miracle has occurred.

Instead of using words like shame, rejection, fear and punishment, Christian is suddenly speaking the language of love. Specifically, he’s speaking about having encountered God’s personal, gentle, merciful love for him—an encounter that has changed, well—everything.

“My life has always been about failing, about suffering, about punishment,” Christian shared with me in a conversation two days ago. “But when I finally came to God in stillness, in quiet, with an open heart and mind, I heard him whisper in my heart—I love you.” As I listened in grateful awe, he continued: “Since I’ve allowed a little bit of that love to seep into the deepest places of my heart—into the darkest things I’ve ever known and done—I’ve seen that has always God loved me, that he only wanted to embrace me, and that he has always been there with me.”

This is precisely how we transform from slaves to friends of God.

 My son has a “new way of thinking,” as he referred to it, and it has everything to do with coming to believe that he is deeply loved by a merciful God, and that he’s called to live out of that reality.   This new way of understanding has convinced him that many people aren’t interested in God because they have the wrong idea about who God is, thinking of him as a punitive, exacting taskmaster instead of “as a gentle Father whose love and mercy hold the world together.”

Believe me, I know words can be cheap. But when you hear those words coming from the depth of a son’s heart—a son who’s been afflicted for so many years—you know something has radically changed. And you genuinely rejoice.

“Punishment is not who God is!” Christian stated emphatically. “He is love and what he wants is our hearts. People need to know that we are loved by a Father who wants to heal us, set us free, and bless us. And we can’t know that until we personally know who God is.”

Christian went on to say that he now recognizes that recovery—freedom from slavery to drugs—is not about shaming himself out of screwing up or beating himself over the head for falling. “Recovery is about healing the broken heart,” he concluded with conviction. “It’s about opening up, trusting, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to God and to others. What matters is that we are loved, and when we live our lives based on that fact, we become free.”

Indeed, I hear the sweet freedom of a friend of Christ in my son’s voice, a young man who has discovered at last that Christ’s “friends” are “those whom he loves.” I see the liberty of a child of God who has finally heard the voice of the Father whispering: You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

Such is the cry of freedom of the children of God, freedom won only through love.

This article was previously published at Aleteia.

How Dung Helps Flowers Grow: What God Does With Our "Crapola"

I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from Israel. I shall be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; he shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.      Hosea 14: 5-7

It happens every spring. Just as I’m walking around the neighborhood gleefully absorbing the exquisite sights and smells of sweet Louisiana blooms, I get a whiff of something putrid.

Then I remember.

Dung is used as fertilizer in many local gardens, and my garden always does best when I buy the soil advertised as laden with cow manure.

I don’t know about you, but some days I feel plain 'ole crappy about my life. I agonize about mistakes made, opportunities missed, and relationships mired in misunderstanding. I spew apologies, wish for do-overs and rake myself over the coals.

The mercy is, when I finally settle down enough to ground myself in God’s presence, I don’t get mud thrown in my face.  Instead, I hear the Lord’s gentle voice whispering: I will heal your defections…I will love you freely…you shall blossom like the lily.

We can be master builders of our own whipping posts, ready and willing to bind ourselves inexorably to every last lash. We can view our failures to love in endless 3-D projections, seeing only the terrible tearings that teased out death. We can rend ourselves asunder with regret, obsessing over our belief that we were supposed to get things right.

 We can even call this humility, when the sad fact is that all of this rumbled reasoning reeks of an unholy focus on self, not of holy faith in God.

Because faith in God means that we see our defects—redeemed by God’s grace—as glorified gashes in our humanity capable of spawning new life. Faith in God means we trust that when our personal capabilities crash, God’s competence rises up to save us. Faith in God means that we adjust the lens of our reality to magnify God’s magnanimous mercy instead of our many measly mistakes.

What faith basically means is just that this shortfall that we all have in our love is made up by the surplus of Jesus Christ’s love, acting on our behalf. He simply tells us that God himself has poured out among us a superabundance of his love and has thus made good in advance all of our deficiency. Ultimately, faith means nothing other than admitting that we have this kind of shortfall; it means opening our hand and accepting a gift.   Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), What It Means to Be A Christian

In other words, we can’t. God can. Will we let him?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said: "The best fortune that can fall to a man is that which corrects his defects and makes up for his failings." I’d call that fortune grace.   What sweet relief that our “dung,” infused with God’s grace, becomes fertile territory where fragrant trees grow and flowers bloom.

Mercy Upon Mercy: My Father's Final Farewell

FullSizeRender-5 “At that last hour a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except My mercy.” —Diary of St. Faustina, par. 1075

“Do you believe in God, Dad?” I asked from the driver’s seat as Daddy and I cruised down St. Charles Avenue heading for my parents’ New Orleans home.

My then-eighty-year-old father, known to cry freely, began to weep. “I’m totally dependent on God’s mercy, Judy Marie,” he choked out using my entire given name, which he’d called me exclusively since the day I was born. “What else is there?”

That conversation contained the most open display of faith I’d ever seen in my dad; a father of ten whom I’d never witnessed initiating prayer or church attendance. Daddy and I had never even talked about faith before, and we only stumbled into this conversation because he was attending my Health Care Ethics course at a local Catholic college. Our weekly post-class lunch together, and the drive home, left ample time for conversation but it seemed that the topic of God was the hardest thing to broach.

Until Daddy lay dying.

“Dad,” I said out loud as I held the hand of my lightly comatose father in what would be the last week of his life, confident he could still hear me. “Remember what you told me about being completely dependent on God’s mercy? Trust in the mercy of God when you meet him, Dad,” I continued. “That’s all you need to do.”

Family members had been gathering daily by Daddy’s bedside to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, engaged in a vigil of prayer and personal attendance as he slept in a newly delivered hospital bed. At least one person from our large family sat next to him constantly, while others occupied nearby spaces—keeping company with Mama and each other, preparing meals, and running necessary errands.

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“What a beautiful way to die,” I thought one evening as I stood in the kitchen tending a rump roast and sipping a glass of wine. I was overcome with awe by the sheer grace of it all, noting the powerful manner in which our father’s impending death had pulled us all to God and to each other; offering gratitude for the way a father’s final days had drawn a family that’s experienced more than its fair share of adversity, division and tragedy solidly together in faith, hope and love.

A priest friend had come by twice in eight days to offer Mass, anointing both of our ailing parents each time with the Sacrament of the Sick. At the second Mass at least thirty members of our extended family crammed around the dining room table to celebrate the liturgy—the same table at which at least a dozen people would gather for dinner another night to pool our hearts and prayers:  intermittently praying, eating, crying, laughing, and sharing stories of our lives together. An Apostolic Pardon was given to Daddy, as well as the offering of love, peace and pardon from many family members. One particularly precious night, a room full of grown children raised our voices beside our unconscious father to thank him for the many gifts he’d given us, including endless hours spent in the scorching Louisiana heat teaching twenty-eight first cousins how to ski, crab, boat and fish in the murky waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

Life had not always been easy and Daddy had borne his scars, especially from the heart-shattering deaths of two of his sons to suicide.  Indeed, life had seemed almost merciless at times and God far distant, and our now-fragile father had cried many tears over life’s bitter disappointments.

But now—at the hour of death when it mattered most—mercy upon mercy showed up.

A peaceful, holy death was granted to a man who had the grace to comprehend that he was “totally dependent on God’s mercy”—tender, faithful Mercy that drew us all into its embrace during a father’s final farewell.

This article previously appeared at Aleteia.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Whom Do I Judge the Harshest of All?

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Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.  Matthew 7:1

Sitting in the enclosed brick courtyard in front of our home prayerfully pondering those words on Monday morning, I clearly heard the Lord say: “Stop judging yourself.” That’s odd, I thought, because while judging others is something I regularly confess to a priest, it suddenly occurred to me that I rarely consider the effect of the harsh judgments with which I habitually assail myself. I then wondered how many of our self-judgments become self-fulfilling prophecies, and how the unloving measure with which we measure ourselves might actually keep us stuck in patterns of sin.

An hour later, I walked into nine o’clock Mass quite late, and the first words I heard Fr. Mark speak as I entered the church were “we must stop judging ourselves”—not exactly the homily one would expect to hear regarding Jesus’ teaching on judgment.

“Okay, Lord, I’m getting the memo,” I prayed.

Following Mass, I settled into a chair in the adoration chapel to pray and ponder some of Elizabeth Scalia’s new book, “Little Sins Mean A Lot.” My eyes almost popped out of my head as I read her words in Chapter Nine, entitled “Clinging to Our Narratives Beyond Their Usefulness,” which said:

Self-denigration stops being healthy and starts becoming sinful when it serves to create a despicable or pitiable narrative that we then cling to, and eventually allow to utterly ensnare us in characterizations that we can no longer control or amend.

Now, I was really getting the message.

How many of us live with a familiar narrative of self-condemnation playing in our heads wherein we judge ourselves with words like: Stupid! Worthless! Reject! Freak! Unlovable! Hopeless! Fat! Ugly! Lazy! (Or fill in your own favorite personal insult)? How many of us stay stuck in a perpetual loop of self-rejection that not only erects a wall that prevents us from receiving God’s love, but also keeps us from rightly loving others and ourselves? How many of our judgments of others are really projections of our own self-hatred that keep us locked into a pitiful measure of participation in the one reality in which God longs for us to share, which is love?

 Pope Francis’ homily on Monday’s Gospel challenged us to look into the mirror when we are tempted to judge. He said:

 If you judge others constantly, with the same measure you shall be judged. The Lord therefore asks us to look in the mirror: Look in the mirror, but not to put on makeup to hide the wrinkles. No, no, no, that's not the advice! Look in the mirror to look at yourself as you are. Pope Francis, Homily of June 20, 2016

I believe the Pope’s words were right on, but they also beg another question. Are we capable of seeing ourselves as we truly are when we look in the mirror: as broken sinners who are redeemed and infinitely loved by a merciful Father who sees us as not as worthless rejects but as precious, beloved children? Or are our mirrors cracked, warped and foggy, hampering our ability to see as God sees:

You are precious in my eyes and glorious…You shall be called by called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you.                                    Isaiah 43:4, 62:2-4

There is a tension in the dual reality that we are redeemed sinners, mercified prodigals, glorified messes—as well as in the fact that the more we trust God’s love for us, the less prone we are to rejecting both ourselves and others. Letting go of our own disordered self-judgments may be the very act of virtue that enables us to stop judging others, just as experiencing God’s love and mercy makes us more capable of extending love and mercy to others.

Let us pray that the Lord will remove the logs from our eyes and enlighten the “eyes of (our) hearts” (Eph. 1:18) that we may see as he sees, and consequently, love as he loves.

This article was previously published at Aleteia.

Why Mercy Makes Us Uncomfortable

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In his second Encyclical, Dives in Misericordia…Saint John Paul II highlighted the fact that we had forgotten the theme of mercy in today’s cultural milieu: “The present day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of ‘mercy’ seem to cause uneasiness in man, who, thanks to the enormous development of science and technology, never before known in history, has become the master of the earth and has subdued and dominated it.”

Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, para. 11

Something very strange happened on Tuesday. Thousands of people in Louisiana, including my sixteen-year-old son, Benjamin, and myself, were sequestered to closets and bathrooms under the immediate threat of a tornado in our area. Hurricanes we’re used to. Tornadoes no.

I sat on the ground in our small powder room with Benjamin’s lacrosse helmet on my head, clutching my rosary and praying for God’s mercy for all in the storm’s path. Our phone alarms had sounded moments earlier alerting us to an imminent threat in our vicinity, and multiple texts had arrived from family members telling us to take cover as they watched minute-by-minute news coverage of a twister aiming right at us.

From the bathroom floor, I pulled up the news on my laptop so I could see how close the tornado was to us. Suddenly, it occurred to me how unnervingly strange it is that the technology exists to give us a blow-by-blow report on a tornado that might be headed directly for our neighborhood—but that nothing could actually be done to protect us from its wrath. It reminded me that a direct confrontation with the power of nature serves up a sobering wake up call of just how vulnerable we human beings really are, as many of us have learned in recent years in the face of natural disasters.

Interestingly, I had been chewing on Pope Francis’ abovementioned quote by Saint John Paul II all day, trying to figure out why and how mercy makes us uneasy. But the answer didn’t hit me until I was huddled in the bathroom praying for mercy!

Mercy makes us uncomfortable because it necessitates the admission of our powerlessness, and the acknowledgement that we are not, in fact, God. Mercy crashes our illusions that we are masters of the earth because of our technological prowess, calling us to confront the reality that we are not in control. Mercy demands that we have the humility to concede that we are creatures who are utterly dependent on God—creatures that would cease to exist if he turned his omnipotent glance away from us for one millisecond.

To seek the mercy of God is to experience what Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) referred to as a personal “Copernican revolution,” wherein we come to see that we are not the center of the universe, and that God is. As such, we must begin “to accept quite seriously that we are one of many among God’s creatures, all of which turn around God as their center.” (Joseph Ratzinger, What It Means to Be a Christian, 70-71)

Looking at the world around us, it is apparent that we don’t like to admit our own poverty and frailty, nor do we tolerate well the poverty and frailty of others. Asking for and extending mercy requires that we do both: recognize our human fragility and our profound need for help, while “return(ing) to the basics…to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters.” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, para. 10)

 Frankly, we’d rather not. And it shows in the way we live, the values we embrace and the leaders we elect. Which is precisely why Pope Francis, following the lead of St. John Paul II, unceasingly pushes for what he insists is an “urgent” need for the proclamation and witness of mercy in the world.

Note: This article was previously published on Aleteia.

Pope Francis' Mercifying Madness

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With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. Pope Francis, Miseracordiae Vultus, par. 8

 This pope just won’t stop talking about mercy. He’s even come up with a word I’ve never heard before: mercifying. “What in the world does that mean?” I asked when I saw the word in his new book. For while his namesake, St. Francis, was charged by God to “rebuild my Church,” it seems Pope Francis has been given the mandate of “mercifying” the Church.

In Pope Francis’ first book, The Name of God Is Mercy, he talks at length about mercy with veteran Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli. Francis clarifies the meaning of the Latin expression he chose for his episcopal motto, miserando atque eligendo, which he explains as meaning “mercifying and choosing.” (Translated elsewhere as “mercying and choosing.”)

According to the pope, mercifying describes the gaze of Jesus, who looks upon us with love, forgives our sins and chooses us. Mercifying happens when we experience ourselves as being seen by Christ, when we sense his penetrating eyes unveiling ours, and when we come to know that we are loved, embraced and chosen, calling us forth to repentance and new life.

Francis’ description of his own experience of being mercified in the confessional at age 17 prompted me to remember my own encounter with God’s transforming mercy at the age of 23, when my soul morphed from the black alienation of separation from God to being bathed in the light of Christ’s love in one split second.

Agnostic at the time in spite of being raised Catholic, I was carrying on like a complete pagan, indulging myself in anything and everything the world had to offer. After several years of vacuous living, I became aware of my own inner emptiness and began to cry out for God to show me if he was real. That small opening — to which Francis refers as conceding to God “the smallest glimmer of space” — was enough for God to move. In short order, God sent someone to my apartment unexpectedly who invited me to go to church with him that Sunday — the unforgettable day that I was mercified by encountering Jesus Christ.

“The medicine is there, the healing is there,” says the pope, “if we only take a small step toward God … or even desire to take that step” (Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy, xviii).

What stands out in my mind as I think back on that life-changing experience is how miraculously, in one instant, I suddenly became utterly convinced that Jesus knew me personally, that he loved me and that he wanted to be in a relationship with me. Like the tax collector, Matthew, to whose calling Pope Francis repeatedly refers (Matt. 9:9), “I knew that I was seen, loved, chosen.”

My angst over my own hollow life — which I was not even able to call “sinful” yet — had led me to the point of questioning. But it was the infinite gaze of Christ’s love that turned me on a dime, that changed my mind about what could make me truly happy, that called me to leave a lost, lonely life behind to follow him. As grace moved, I quickly saw my own wretchedness and the need to amend my life. Necessary repentance came, but it was the look of merciful love that first called me forth from sin’s stupor.

This is the dynamic of encounter that Pope Francis refers to as mercifying, wherein we experience Christ seeing our inmost hearts and are touched by his desire to respond to our deepest need for forgiveness, healing and restoration. The world is flat, desperate for mercifying at such a time as this — the very reason Pope Francis speaks incessantly about it.

I believe it is a time for mercy. The Church is showing her maternal side, her motherly face, to a humanity that is wounded. She does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them, she makes them feel loved. And so, as I said, and I am ever more convinced of it, this is a kairos, our era is a kairos of mercy, an opportune time.

Pope Francis, The Name of God Is Mercy, 6

This article was first published on Aleteia.

To My Brothers With Love

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A Jubilee also entails the granting of indulgences. This practice will acquire an even more important meaning in the Holy Year of Mercy.  Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, par. 22.

No way. I wasn’t going to jump through hoops to try to gain God’s favor—because that’s how I saw indulgences at the time. As a “revert” to Catholicism from evangelical Christianity, the doctrine of indulgences still scandalized me.

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1471).

Gains? Under certain conditions? Nope. Not for me. While I had accepted the doctrine of purgatory and the idea that temporal consequences may need remediation after sin is forgiven, the thought that I could do something to help a deceased soul repair the damage caused by sin still seemed, frankly, like hocus pocus to me.

Until I lost two brothers to suicide—both baptized Catholics—compelling me to ask:  What if indulgences aren’t about jumping through hoops to win God’s favor, but are instead about doing something concrete as an act of love for another person?

What if I could indulge my brothers in the unfathomable, unmerited mercy of God, asking that the lingering consequences of sin—more apparent than ever in the face of suicide—be remedied?

And what if I could assist my brothers in the necessary work of purification; in healing the wounds inflicted by sin?

Why wouldn’t I want to help them if I could?

Thus began my habitual practice of asking the Lord for an indulgence for them, or someone else in my bloodline, every time I go to Confession.* Because fundamentally, indulgences admit that we’re not in this alone, but that we’re members of one Body who help and support each other on this journey to salvation. Indulgences acknowledge that we are, indeed, our brothers’ keeper, and that the voices of our brothers and sisters cry out for lavish mercy. Indulgences draw on the power of “the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1476)—the power that alone can redeem sin and its consequences. We are invited to participate in that power each time we pray, each time we turn to God for mercy and forgiveness, and each time we ask for an indulgence, which applies to ourselves and others of the fruits of Christ’s redemption.

While I can’t presume to know with certainty that my brothers are saved, I believe and trust that "by ways known to (God) alone," they are (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2283).  I do not despair of their salvation, but entrust them to the eternal embrace of God that encompasses all time, all people, all things. I beg God’s mercy for them, availing myself of the graced opportunity to pray for a plenary indulgence for their souls.   That is just what I did on Scott’s birthday, December 30, when I walked through the Jubilee Door of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., holding him close to my heart.

God’s forgiveness knows no bounds, Pope Francis wrote in Misericordiae Vultus. Nor does his indulgent love, which can reach into all things, making up—and inviting us to participate—wherever love is lacking.

*For a fuller explanation about indulgences, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1471-1479.

This article appeared first on Aleteia.

The Death of Zeus and the Healing of Fatherhood

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How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!   Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, par. 5.

 

Drop by drop; the water fell through the sugar cube into the glass of absinthe perched on the Royal Street bar. Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” blaring from the stage had summoned us in for a dance, just after we’d finished caroling with thousands of others in the shadow of St. Louis Cathedral. My husband, Mark, decided to try the famous New Orleans libation, and as we watched the sugared water slowly sweeten the bitterest of drinks, Leonard approached the bar.

“What are you guys doing in New Orleans?” he opened.

“We’re locals,” we offered. “We were caroling in Jackson Square. The archbishop led the singing.”

“I used to be a good Catholic,” he countered immediately. “But I haven’t been to Church or prayed in years.” (People confess the darndest things in bars!)

One thing led to another and before we knew it, my husband and I were sharing openly about our faith in God, and about the reality of a tender, merciful Father who loves us personally and wants to be in relationship with us. We disclosed that we begin every morning with Eucharistic adoration and Mass, encouraging Leonard to start to set aside time to seek God in prayer.   It was then that he turned to me and asked: “What do you hear in prayer?”

“I hear God say, ‘You are my beloved daughter,'” I replied, grateful that the voice of Love has finally supplanted the voice of condemnation in my head. Leonard’s eyes widened like saucers and welled with visible tears. “Well, I’ve never heard anything remotely like that in prayer!” he exclaimed.

Leonard stayed close by us for the rest of the night, anxious to hear more about the Father who loves him. It was clear from our conversation that his relationship with his own father had been difficult, and that he, like so many other people Mark and I encounter, was suffering from what we’ve come to call “a father wound.”

More than forty years ago, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) said in a sermon on God:

It is well known that the Greeks called their Zeus ‘Father’. But this word was not an expression of their trust in him!...When they said ‘Father’, they meant that Zeus was like human fathers—sometimes really nice, when he was in a good mood, but ultimately an egoist, a tyrant, unpredictable, unfathomable, and dangerous. (Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God, 32)

How many people have experienced their human fathers this way? And how many people believe this is who God is?

Being in ministries where we hear the personal stories of wounded souls on a daily basis, Mark and I know this number is not negligible. Sadly, there seems to be a consistent theme in too many narratives: physically or emotionally absent fathers, raging fathers, alcoholic fathers, abusive fathers—fathers more like Zeus that the Father whom Jesus Christ came to reveal.

Ratzinger said in the same sermon on God:

The crisis of fatherhood we are experiencing today is a basic aspect of the crisis that threatens mankind as a whole. Where…the father is seen as a tyrant whose yoke must be thrown off, something in the basic structure of human existence has been damaged. (Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God, 29)

Perhaps the “tenderness revolution” Pope Francis is launching will not only unleash mercy on the world, but will prompt a healing in fatherhood itself, one that “will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 3:24, Luke 1:17). Such a turn might convince us that God is not Zeus, but “Abba,” who is mercy, kindness, compassion and love. This is the truth that is revealed in Jesus Christ, and meant to be revealed by Christ in us, as a desperate world cries: “Show us the face of the Father!”

Note: This article was first published on Aleteia as "The Mercy Journal."

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