Be propheticaly human to fight for healthy realism!
dr. james kottoor
This is a commentary on the news report “Rigid idealism or healthy realism?”, a sermon Pope Francis preached at St.Marthas on June 9th published in the CCV today.
In this talk Francis very touchingly portrays the humane humanity of Jesus. He was one who should have been seated on heavenly throne. Yet he emptied himself to find himself quite at home and comfortable in the rough and dirty surroundings of a cattle shed, which was the only place a poor, helpless Joseph and Mary could find and provide for his birth.
What is just said, is a symbol or an allegory of the way God is satisfied with the degree of human achievements or failures every time one strives and leaps for perfection but falls short. Our God is a God of perfection. Hence the exhortation in the Bilble: “Be you perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But how many reach it? How many are capable of reaching it? Therefore are we to say, God is going to condemn and punish those who fall short of the perfect ideal projected? What about those who would or could reach only 20, 40, or 70 % of that perfection? No, God never condemns or punishes. He rewards everyone who has at least tried but may not have succeed to the extent they wanted. Some must have leapt to score a 100 but could secure only 50 or just a shameful 1 or 2.
Parable of Workers
Just think of the parable of the workers in the field, in which one came to work at the last 12th hour and was given a full day’s pay. That is not to say God is not at all a demanding task master. So think again of the parable of the talents! He gave 10 to one, 5 to another, and 1 to a third. One who got 1 buried it and did nothing to multiply it. In today’s economy he could have at least put it in the bank to become productive. But what happened to that lazy servant who didn’t even try to trade with it and multiply? He was simply cast out in the dark. The lesson is this: our God is a God of mercy unlimited and rewards everyone who at least tries to do his/her LITTLE bit. His plea to all is do your little bit, at least try and see what you can do, He will then do the rest.
“Either this or nothing” is Heretical
This is the difference between rigid idealism and healthy realism which Francis explains in his talk during Mass. In clearer terms Francis wants all of us to know that it is heretical to preach the so-called legalistic ideal concept of “either this or nothing” which is not Catholic. It is well-and-good to ‘strive for perfectionism but the end to be reached is reconciliation with your brother. We can’t expect, all of us, to be flawlessly perfect in anything but we can and must at least do what we can, do what is within our power and know-how, to settle disagreements so that a war does not break out. First duty is to prevent the outbreak of an all out war. To achieve that goal, you may have to tolerate a little bit of ill-feelings and minor wrong-doings as one may say.
Francis compares the rigidity of hard hearted Pharisees of old to the kind hearted prophets, God sent to bring a ray of joy and a modicum of comfort to his exploited people, whom the Pharisees and teachers, keepers and defenders of law murdered, possibly to give an indirect exhortation to today’s conservative, tradition bound cardinals and bishops, who wanted to deny communion to the divorced, whom they see living “in a sate of sin” to become kind-hearted like the Prophets of old, to work for at least a compromise solution.
Today’s prophets of hope, joy, comfort and compassion are persons like Francis, some of the German and French bishops and theologians like Walter Kasper. They all got their inspiration first and most of all from Pope John XXIIi who at the outset of Vatican II, prescribed the medicine of mercy and opened the windows of the church to “let cool fresh air in.” To the battalion of conservatives and traditionalists who attack these prophets of mercy and compassion, Francis seems to be telling: “you have killed the prophets, you have persecuted the prophets: those who were bringing fresh air.”
So we all must today bat for a compassionate healthy humane humanism and realism steering clear of the traps and pitfalls of harsh, bitter and rigid legalism or an idealism rudely enforcing the rule of Law and its vice-like grip on frail humans. This seems to the powerful message Pope Francis boradcsts vigorously when he says: “there are so many times we can’t be perfect but carry out at least what you can do and settle your disagreements.”
Is the whole Church in India listerning? Especially the 180 bishops who have not come out so far in the open to say even a word of comfort and brotherly support to the kidnapped and tortured (on April 25th) bishop Prasad Gallella of Cuddapah even after one and half months? Won’t their tight-liped silence amount to saying: “Am I my brother’s keeper and a total failure to do even their “little bit?”
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