Monday, January 18, 2016

Thoughts On Francis in the Light of MLK

A)     Letter From a Birmingham Jail:
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

By analogy to Pope Francis. As MLK is not concerned so much about the theoretical equality of black and white but about action of integration, so also Pope Francis is not so much concerned about making points of doctrine, as about solving the status quo of people ensconced in a state of sin that they cannot practically get out of [divorced-remarried]. The doctrinal points are clear: i.e. for those validly married and baptized, they have made the gift of themselves to each other and, by such, establish an unbreakable bond. Having attempted to enter into another marriage is a violation of the very meaning of matrimony and, by living in that state, disqualify themselves - by not being in grace - from receiving the Eucharist. The Lord was most clear on this point: "And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' They said to him, 'Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?' He said to them, 'For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce you wives, but from the beginning it was not so'" (Mt. 19, 3ff., also Mk 10, 2ff.)." 

   And so it is clear what man should do and not do, and why. But then there is the other question: what can God forgive? What will God forgive? The pope writes in the Bull: "When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive." And as with the woman caught in adultery, He forgives her sin and tells her to sin no more: "Now the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and setting her in the midst, said to him, 'Master, this woman has jut now been caught in adultery. And in the Law Moses commanded us to stond such persons. What, therefore, does thou say/?' Now they were saying this to test him, in order that they might be able to accuse him. But Jesus, stooping down, began to write with his finger on the ground.
   "But when they continued asking him, he raised himself and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.' And again, stooping down, he began to write on the ground. But hearing this, they went away, one by one, begining with the eldest. And Jesus remained alone, with the woman standing in the midst.
   "And Jesus, raising himself, said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned thee?' She said, 'No one, Lord,' Then Jesus said, Neither will I condemn thee, Go thy way, and from now on sin no more' (Jn. 8. 3-11)."

     So, mercy trumps justice in an act of Love without doing away with the metaphysics of justice. And this seems to be the tension: the order of being established by the Being of the Creator, and the order of mercy which is the very Being of the Redeemer. The same God is Creator and Redeemer. Made in the image and likeness of God, we have to learn from revelation what the Being of God is like, and therefore, what is the being of man. It is not sufficient to take the meaning of being and reality from Greek speculation and add the supernatural to it. The very meaning of being is different within Christian revelation. 
   We saw above in a blog this month that Robert Moynihan ["Inside the Vatican" - "Letters"], had "one concern" about the Church dispensing forgiveness as broad and universal as Christ:

"This is a concern because cultural forces inimical to the faith greatly desire to gain a victory in this particular battle, a battle which is only part of a very broad-based metaphysical war against the concepts of substantial being, personhood, the soul, personal fault, sin, guilt, repentance, and holiness of life -- the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic sacramental system... the concepts which underlie the entire Catholic faith."

   My response is that the Person of  Christ is the meaining of reality

   In short, the Person of Christ, is the meaning of reality.

  This bond has ontological reality and cannot be revoked by an act of the will since, and - to my mind – hopes to raise the consciousness of the Church to the mind of Christ by a practical living out of the Year of Mercy. That is, as the Church could move from a state of self-referentiality to mercy for those on the periphery, there could be a motion from not-seeing to seeing; that is a growth in the possibility of having been forgiven in the state of sin in which they find themselves with repentance, and the possibility of receiving the Eucharist. This would not annul the metaphysical reality that there cannot be divorce (as it was “from the beginning”) or breaking of the bond of self-gift of the original marriage. But it would affirm the power of Christ to forgive sin – all sin, any sin. And this without damage to the integrity of the metaphysic of conjugal union. Thoughts in analogy with the mind of MLK

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