Avoid the “logic of classification” or thinking of faith only in terms of “can” or “cannot”: the time to act is at hand

Pope Francis at Santa Marta: the “logic of classification” is hypocritical and deceitful. In God, justice is mercy and mercy is justice, this is the truth

By Domenico Agasso, America Magazine, 24 Feb 2017 

While truth is not negotiable, we must be fair in mercy and not think of faith only in terms of “you can” or “you cannot.” This is what Jesus teaches us. Pope Francis begins his homely in Casa Santa Marta by warning of a hypocrite and deceitful faith when reduced to the logic of classification.

Reports radio Vatican: today’s Gospel, February 24 2017, on St. Mark reads the question “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”. This question was asked to the son of God by the doctors of the Law who followed him when preaching in Judea. But Jesus does not respond, he doesn’t surrender to the logic of “classification” . As always, he explains the truth.

Francis observes that the query is once again set to put “to the test” the Son of God. Francis draws inspiration from Christ’s response to explain what matters most in faith: “Jesus does not answer whether it is lawful or unlawful; he does not enter their logic of “classification”. Because they think of faith only in terms of “can” or “cannot”, until where one can or cannot go. The logic of classification: Jesus does not care for it. He asks a question: “But what did Moses command you? What is in your law? “. And they explain the permission that Moses gave to divorce from the wife, but they are the ones who fall into the trap, “because Jesus” called them “hard-hearted”: “He wrote this commandment for the hardness of your heart,” and He tells the truth. No case study. No permits. The truth”.

Jesus “always tells the truth – says the Pope – He explains how things were created,” even when questioned on adultery by his disciples, he reiterates: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery to her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. “

Francis points out that the logic of classification is hypocritical and deceptive. If the truth is that adultery is ’a serious sin’, how can we explain, the Pope asks, the fact that Christ converses “many times with an adulteress, pagan”? He has even “drank from her glass, which was not purified.” And then he tells her: “I do not condemn you. Sin no more “; how is it possible? Because, the Bishop of Rome explains, “the path of Jesus – it is quite clear – is the path from the logic of classification to truth and mercy. Jesus leaves out the classification. Those who challenge him, Those who think based on a “ you can/can’t” logic, Jesus calls them – not here, but in another part of the Gospel – hypocrites “. And continues, “with the fourth commandment, they denied to assist their parents using the excuse that they had given a good offer to the Church. Hypocrites. Classification is hypocritical. It is a self-righteous thinking. “you can – you cannot” … which then becomes more subtle, more evil: Can I go here? But from here to here I can’t. It is the deception of classification. “

The Christian path goes from the classification logic to truth and mercy; i.e. it does not yield to the logic of classification, but follows Jesus’ model and responds with truth and mercy. “Because He is the embodiment of the Father’s Mercy, and cannot deny himself. He cannot deny himself because he is the Father’s Truth, he cannot deny himself because he is the Father’s Mercy. “This is the way that Jesus teaches us”, of course, it is difficult to apply, the Pope recognized, when facing life’s temptations.

When “temptation touches our heart – it is not an easy path to emerge from the logic of classification to truth and mercy. We need God’s grace to help us move on. We must always ask for it. “Lord, may I be righteous, but righteous with mercy “and not “righteous under the logic of classification. Righteous in mercy. As you are. Righteous in mercy”. A person with a classification mindset could ask:” But, what is more important in God? Justice or mercy? “. This is another sick thought trying to get out … What is more important? It’s not two, it’s just one, just one thing. In God, justice is mercy, and mercy is justice. “

May the Lord “help us to understand this road – he invokes in conclusion – which is not easy, but it will make us happy, it will make so many people happy.”

Words, those of Pope Francis in this homily that can be easily interpreted as a renewed response to the debate and controversy on the post synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in particular Chapter VIII on the pastoral attitude towards the divorced and remarried.

In a piece earlier that week in America magazine, Pope Francis’ letter to the US meeting of Popular Movements was quoted, where he condemned what he dubbed a global “hypocritical attitude” toward suffering and he called for more action to address a range of social ills.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, said while introducing Cardinal Turkson that the gathering would discuss “transforming the world in which we live in light of our faith tradition in God.

Cardinal Turkson added:  “Pope Francis wants us to recognize the structure that create exclusion in society.”  The pope also wants people to understand that “we are the protagonists of change … that we are actors in this. We are not simply passive objects waiting for things to happen to us.”  Cardinal Turkson and a young woman then took turns reading paragraphs of the letter from Pope Francis.

Rather than looking to political leaders as models to solve the world’s various crises, the pope said in his letter that “Jesus teaches us a different path.”

“Do not classify others in order to see who is a neighbor and who is not,” he wrote.  The work of grass-roots groups coming together is vital to helping people overcome social injuries brought on by an “economic system that has the god of money at its center,” the pope’s letter said.

“Globalized society frequently looks the other way with the pretense of innocence,” the pope wrote. “Under the guise of what is politically correct or ideologically fashionable, one looks at those who suffer without touching them.

“I know that you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our Sister Mother Earth and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice,” the pope’s letter read.

“Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates,” he wrote. “The wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real.”

Francis condemned leaders who rely on “fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills onto a ‘non-neighbor.’”

Finally, the pope reiterated his plea for believers to defend creation against exploitation, issuing a subtle warning against those who deny challenges facing the environment.

The “ecological crisis is real,” the pope wrote, and though conceding that science “is not the only form of knowledge,” he said, “we also know what happens when we deny science and disregard the voice of Nature.”

“The pope said the time to act to protect the environment is at hand.  Time is running out,” he warned. “Let us act. I ask you again—all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders—to defend Creation.”

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