Amnesty, forgiveness, tolerance, are all words that do not spark enthusiasm, causing, on the contrary, more and more often discomfort and, among many people, even irritation. Somebody else’s sin or the disgrace into which our neighbour falls do not trigger compassion in us anymore. More than that, this feeling is at present despised in those who manifest it. Man gets used to live side by side with hatred, becoming hyper-intransigent and demanding… obviously toward the others! To himself, on the other hand, conscience does not reproach anything. The problem is his death or the comatose state and the complete unconsciousness he arrives at in the end.
In distant times, to which no return can be made anymore, forgiveness was vital to every facet of social life. The judge, the emperor, the bishop, the head of the family, anyone who had a role of supervision was the go’el of the weak, of a slave, was his liberator, could absolve, redeem his neighbour from the weight of the mistake (this is the meaning of the Jubilee). The conquest of freedom, the received mercy was a major experience of joy, a huge celebration.
In Christianity this act of love has even become a Sacrament absolved by the priests, upon Jesus’ direct mandate which confers them the power to “dissolve and bind” by absolving sins through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Besides, salvation given us by Christ manifests in the personal encounter with the repentant sinner who acknowledges his own error and explicitly asks for reconciliation with the Lord through this wonderful and irreplaceable sacrament of healing.
But Lord’s mercy may also come unexpectedly, or be misplaced because of its very gratuitous essence. Jesus has the freedom of liberating whomever he wants, without claiming special requirements. Hence the choice to obey the Father, letting himself to be crucified is still considered today a folly by non-believers. Hence, the mercy of the God of all Christians is not contingent on anything, despite the proper mandate of the Church to reawaken in every man the desire of penthos, the need to repent, confess their own failings, and ask for absolution along with welcoming also fine.
Nowadays, all this is diminished and, unfortunately, also relativized. Mankind loses, dangerously, the sense of mercy, becoming thus a truly ruthless and unmanageable Cain. Human life is desecrated, devalued, and completely downgraded, as to allow one to kill with a frightening ease, eliminating thus the existence of a person or even that of entire masses. People escaping at all times, losing life for a dream, the dream of being welcomed and of finding a future. All this is terrifying, and the inability of the man to mend their own ways, repent, then admit their horrible mistakes is scaring.
In the meantime, no one expected the proclamation of a Jubilee of Mercy, even those who should teach it with their own testimony. Yet, when Mercy touches certain sins – the Pope’s words on those who had an abortion has certainly raised many extreme reactions – the barricades of intransigence are built, as if it were up to us and not to God to decide whom to absolve. Man destroys man, pollutes space, crushes wellbeing, distorts nature, confuses the identity of the sexes, and condemns himself to degradation without remedy. Bergoglio’s repeated appeals and that of all those who believe in the common good, seem to fall into the abyss of indifference, repelled as if it did not concern us at all. The biggest betrayal lies in those delusions of unforgivable omnipotence, especially if we think about what will remain after us and how will the new generations live.
There are people who no longer feel the need tobe forgiven nor to give mercy; but all this is likely to cause ruthlessness in a world, that will be truly unable to absolve anyone. Certainly it is not God who says “I do not absolve you” nor will be able the man to do so, but nature itself.