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Murder in the Heart - Gossip & Rash Judgement | KFP Articles
Murder in the Heart - Gossip & Rash Judgement PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 September 2013 09:34

The Holy Father Francis hit another topic on the head with his homily on Friday.  To judge someone in your heart is to be a Christian murderer!  No mincing of words there but this is nothing new as his papacy is marked by an emphasis on Mercy and some straight talk.  Much ado was made of his decision to limit use of the Extraordinary Form Mass for the Friars of the Immaculate and the recent debate between Catholic Answers and traditionalists (For background see David Armstrong) such as Chris Ferrara has sparked similar commentary.  The debate has brought up the many differences in worldview and theology between traditional Catholics and radical traditionalists.  However, I don't believe these theological issues are driving the debate.  The main issue driving the debate is the concern that radical traditionalists, and in my opinion some of their interlocutors, demonstrate a significant lack of compassion towards each other.  

Mark Shea even apologized for his part in this problem with his post I’ve been an angry jerk of late.  He comes off as harsh but he was atleast refreshingly clear about his feelings on the matter, "Yeah.  I’ve been on a pretty short fuse this week and I’ve been out of line–very out of line... In short, I chose not only to hate Reactionaries but to regard them with cold and resolute indifference (which is more serious since, as JPII observed, the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference)... Online Reactionary Catholics are the single most toxic subculture I have ever encountered in the Church. Reactionary Catholicism spends its wasted time on legalistic trivia.  It gets off on evil power trips  by cruelly inflicting guilt on scrupulous people who are already staggering under heavy psychological burdens. Reactionaries pose as courageous defenders of the Faith while huddling in bunkers and attacking people who have made genuine sacrifices and suffered huge losses for Christ."

The Pope's words help us recognize the gravity of our behavior when we judge and speak harshly about others:

After speaking to us about humility, Jesus speaks to us about humility’s antonym, “of that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbour when one becomes a “judge” of his brother”. “In this context  Jesus uses a strong word: “hypocrite”,” the Pope said.  “Those who live judging their neighbour, speaking ill of their neighbour, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings. The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness.”...  “Every time we judge our brothers in our hearts – or worse still when we speak ill of them with others, we are Christian murderers: A Christian murderer…. It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord. And there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. And every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Caine, the first murderer in History.”

MERCY in judgement underlies the papal message here. The beautiful truth of the Christian life is understood when compassion, not rash and inconsiderate judgement, guide our love of neighbor.  To understand what Mercy means for us let's turn to Dr. Stackpole's article over at the Marians site:

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) defined the virtue of "mercy" in his great Summa Theologiae (ST II-II.30.1) as "the compassion in our hearts for another person's misery, a compassion which drives us to do what we can to help him." For St. Thomas this virtue has two aspects: "affective" mercy and "effective" mercy.

Affective mercy is an emotion: the pity we feel for the plight of another. In this respect, St. Thomas says, human mercy is grounded in a "defect" in our nature: the defect of human vulnerability to suffering. We feel pity for those who suffer because we too are subject to such miseries. Thus, our affective sympathy for others arises from our capacity for empathy... Effective mercy, on the other hand, is something that we do, a positive action for the good of another, taking steps to relieve the miseries or meet the needs of others. According to St. Thomas, the Latin word "misericordia" literally means "having a miserable heart"—both affectively and effectively—for another person's misery...

St. Thomas argues that the human virtue of mercy necessarily will be both affective and effective. However, to be the authentic virtue of "mercy," it must manifest two additional characteristics. First, it must be rooted in "right reason"—that is, in the truth about the sufferings of others, and what is in fact the objective "good" for the other whom we seek to help. Secondly, the virtue of mercy is proven in effective action for the good of others, as circumstances permit. If we merely "sympathize" with the plight of another and "share their pain" without making the best of the opportunities we have to help them, then virtue of mercy does not abide in us in any significant degree.


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