Monday, April 23, 2007

A Zone of Mercy

Jona at Nineveh -- Ulrich Leive

“A monastic community becomes a heaven not because its theory and structures are correct and its personnel are perfect, but because it is a zone of mercy. In Bernard’s [of Clairvaux) view, spiritual life begins with self-knowledge, progresses via compassion or empathy, and finds its completion in the self-forgetfulness of contemplation.” Reflections On The Beliefs and Values Of The Rule Of Saint Benedict Michael Casey, Monk of Tarrawarra

I think it was Flannery O'Connor that once said, "if the Church is not a divine institution it will turn into an Elk's Club." The Church always has social club tendencies. At our worst we have social club tendencies with a curious and truly destructive penchant for accounting and keeping score. All too often the righteousness in the Church is self-righteousness and such is not righteous at all. What all sinners need is mercy and it behoves those in household of faith not to forget how it was before we entered the door of baptism. Repentance is always in order. If nothing else we should repent of our righteousness.

Repentance and forgiveness are the great themes of the Book of Jonah. Jonah runs from the presence of the LORD, he claims, because he had a sinking feeling that the LORD just might forgive the folks of Nineveh and Jonah was not in a forgiving mood. Whether Jonah ever "gets it" when God asks the final question is not recorded. JWS
["On the Jewish Day of Atonement, Jonah is read in its entirety at the afternoon service after the Torah, since "The story of Jonah epitomizes the power of repentance, and serves to reassure the worshipers that God's arm is extended to receive them." Jonah's Journeys -- Barbara Green -- Editor pg. 131]

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