A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064;firstname.lastname@example.org
When our sense of right and wrong is threatened or attacked, we want to take defensive action. We want, like the followers of Jesus when He was being taken from the Garden of Gethsemane, to draw our sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.
But Jesus would have none of this response. He would not be found guilty of double-speak. He had been teaching: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” so He touched the servant’s ear and healed him. He shows love and mercy to the enemy.
During the discussions regarding the change in the buggery laws, Archbishop Gordon pointed us to the actions of Jesus in dealing with the woman caught in adultery (CN April 15). By law, she was to be stoned to death, but He chose the way of mercy.
Firstly, He invited anyone who was without sin to cast the first stone. Secondly, as they all walked away, He asked the woman: “Has no one condemned you?” To her reply in the negative, He said “Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
We often forget that when we offer mercy to someone, it does not mean that we condone what they have done. Rather, it is to call them to acknowledge that they have done wrong, to recognise that the wrong is deserving of punishment, and then to accept the invitation (from God) to repent and turn away from that wrongdoing.
In our ministry to pre- and post-abortive women, we too have been learning to be as merciful as Jesus, as careful not to condemn, yet as firm as He was in encouraging a change in direction. As fiercely as we defend the right to life of the unborn, we also uphold the dignity of the mother ‘caught’ with an unplanned or ill-timed pregnancy, offering her emotional and material support during and after the pregnancy.
We offer compassionate assistance to those experiencing the traumas (physical, psychological and spiritual) associated with abortion. We provide information on the dangers of abortion. And we pray for the conversion of all those involved in the provision of abortion.
As the threats to traditional marriage and family seem to draw ever closer, we must be prepared to continue boldly sharing the truths of our faith as the path to true human flourishing. We must do so humbly, all the while extending the same love and mercy that Jesus extended to the woman caught in adultery; the same love and mercy that He extended to us when He went to the cross 2000-plus years ago; the same love and mercy that He extends to us every day in the Eucharist.