It is a time for mercy, no question about that. It's the "Year of Mercy," so proclaimed by the Pope. Holy Doors of Mercy have been opened ceremoniously in dozens of important basilicas, shrines, and cathedrals around the world [here's a list].
This Pope will be known as the "Pope of Mercy" -- feeding and showering the homeless, wonderfully touching the infirm, giving pizza and a ride to the beach to victims of human trafficking, focused on the poor. He has constantly preached about and practiced the tender forgiveness of God. This has attracted world leaders as well as social forces like Mark Zuckerberg.
It is the Period of Divine Mercy, as spelled out by Saint Faustina Kowalska (and encouraged by another Pope, Saint John Paul II). Mercy is to be extended to everyone, including criminals.
Are we not told in Scripture to visit the sick, the widowed, the imprisoned? In fact, acts of mercy can be more important than a devotion. They can speak louder than prayer. Clearly, the focus needs to be on kindness, generosity, and looking out for others (who are all our sisters and brothers).
At the same time, however -- and it's a big "however" -- we need to also understand what could be called "deeper mercy."
This is mercy that goes beyond the surface, beyond the obvious wants and needs, and seeks to root out the cause of problems. In other words, rooting out evil is mercy at its most effective -- for it can permanently solve an issue -- a wrong proclivity, an addiction -- instead of papering over or simply throwing money at it. There are often deeply entrenched interior issues and imperfections -- evil -- that lead folks to homelessness and criminality.
Love is love. Tender love is merciful. So, on occasion, is tough love. Correction.
That doesn't mean harshness.
In fact, in the amazing little booklet, Secrets of Purgatory, the revelation at one point says, "A truly holy intellect is something of importance for all eternity. It contains no egoism, no harshness, no misunderstanding, no evil, and no aversion, wickedness, or pride. Truly genuine and holy understanding is simply an outpouring of Divine knowledge. All harshness must suffer violence in purgatory."
That's powerful stuff -- at a time when everyone is filled with what they interpret as "righteous indignation." Everyone is so angry -- on the "blogs," in the feedback section of news or magazine posts, on Facebook (speaking of Zuckerberg), Twitter, or in e-mail. When you see such anger, you see immaturity.
Is it really worth "violence in purgatory"?
At the same time, the alleged revelation said, "Throughout my life I have thought only good of others, and it is very difficult for me to understand that not everything is actually good. This is why there is correct judgment. Holy understanding rectifies everything."
So pray for "holy understanding."
When a person begs near a liquor store or where drugs are sold, should you give money, or would that be enabling -- and tossing money away?
We have to be very careful -- for enabling is not always mercy and oft-times (see: God and His chastisements in the Bible, or Jesus in the Temple), the highest or perhaps one should say deepest, mercy is rebuke (see also the letters of Saint Paul!).
Better, of course, to give money than not -- even if one is uncertain as to how it will be spent by the beggar. But better yet, with the charity, is trying to solve the root problem. (One thinks of those poor vets who constitute a quarter of the homeless in states like Florida).
Are there folks who are so mentally ill or oppressed by the demonic that they can't make rational decisions -- and don't even know how to access all the government assistance they could?
In the case of the oppressed, the greatest mercy would be in seeking to instruct, inspire, and reform the person; gently correcting; or even reprimanding; all along with deliverance.
Wasn't this the plainest example of Christ's Mercy? Wasn't this His Mercy toward the poor "homeless fellow" in the tombs at Gadarenes, and also how He helped Mary Magdalene -- by casting out demons? (How come our Church doesn't?)
To repeat: the greatest mercy is often and even usually in deliverance (which is why the Lord's Prayer ends as it does), and sometimes rebuke (Hebrews 12:6).
Perhaps, for the sake of balance, in our time, this also needs to be preached.
[Visit a Holy Door of Mercy]