Today a friend called to tell that another friend had died and suddenly at that. The fellow who died was a very good friend and I’ll miss him a lot. He was a good friend. We’d spent quite a bit of time together this winter. We’re both fathers and Navy veterans and both drove PT Cruisers. I hadn’t seen Pat in about a month and only the other day I thought of sending him a text message. Earlier this winter while we were having a lengthy discussion I told him that I loved him and I did. I’m glad I was able to say that because I’ve often found it difficult to come right out and say that to another who is not in my own family. Today, though I was filled with sadness over Pat’s passing I was glad that those words had passed between us. Life is short, shorter than we imagine sometimes.
All of this got me to thinking about the Gospel of Jesus. I read a couple of different places that Christian churches are in decline and that we’re in a post-Christian era. I’m not always sure what these writers mean when they write words like that, but for me there is a huge difference for what passes as Christianity most places and what was written in the Gospels. Many Christian churches have become so wrapped up in politics that they are no longer prophetic, but pathetic instead. I believe the Gospels were mainly about radical mercy and forgiveness. I don’t even think Jesus came to found a church, he came in fulfillment of the scriptures. To me all of that is secondary to the message and that message is about forgiveness that knows no bounds and mercy beyond compare. I came across an article written by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM that summarizes much of what I think.
You don’t know mercy until you’ve really needed it. As Thomas Merton once said—and I’ve quoted it often—“Mercy within mercy, within mercy.” It’s as if we collapse into deeper nets of acceptance, deeper nets of being enclosed and finally find we’re in a net we can’t fall out of. We are captured by grace. Only after much mistrust and testing do we accept that we are accepted.
–Richard Rohr, OFM