Overcoming evil with the power of mercy Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Sep. 15, 2011 -- 12:00 AM
Under the Gospel Book by Bishop Robert C. Morlino
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends:

On Sunday, so many of us were united in prayer for the victims and the survivors, and for the families of 9/11, in a special way. The men and women who were affected by this event have all been invited to participate in the suffering of Jesus, which guarantees the Resurrection. But it is an invitation to suffering and, in that sense, it was a somber day of remembrance and we cannot cover it over or white-wash it, because, simply, it was a day that changed the way we live, day-in and day-out, forever.

Of course we were bombarded with information and reflection on 9/11 on the television and internet. There was no escaping it unless you simply avoided most of the major channels all day. The media talked a lot about attitudes of revenge. Asking, was our retaliation sufficient? Will our retaliation ever be complete?

But, beyond praying for the victims, survivors, and their families, the real focus of 9/11 should be two-fold for all of us. Our first focus should be the opening phrase of last Sunday’s First Reading, “Anger and wrath are terrible things” (Sir 27:30). And our second focus should be how such terrible things might be overcome.

The very height of evil

Ten years after the occurrence of 9/11, we have a very clear picture, indeed an “icon” of the reality that anger and wrath are truly terrible things. Instead of thinking entirely about retaliation, we should be thinking about how terrible evil is, because we’re able to see the very height of evil, the real meaning of anger, wrath, and terror, through such an heinous act, a strike of unthinkable violence, done in the name of God.

At the time of the attacks, Blessed John Paul II made clear that it doesn’t get any worse than an act of hatred committed in the name of God. And Pope Benedict has basically said the same thing in the past week, in his message to all in the United States.

There were thousands of people killed, precisely in the name of God, and that is what our country needs to think about — how terrible evil is, and how we should be so motivated against evil that we are revolted not only at evil in its “purest form” but also at the evil we all undertake, through the sins that we commit.

Evil is a terrible thing! Terror is a terrible thing! Sin is an awful thing! It’s a big deal! It’s not something we shrug off, one way or another. More important, though, than the power of evil, is the power that it takes to overcome evil!

The power of mercy and forgiveness

We heard about that power in this past Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 18:21-35). In the First Reading we heard about how awful evil is and in the Gospel we heard about the remedy for evil. The only power strong enough to overcome the power of evil is the power of mercy, the power of forgiveness, and that’s why, as the Second Reading said, “Christ died and came to life,” so that there might be mercy and so that sins might be forgiven.

Jesus shows mercy to conquer the terrible power of evil. That’s the act of love that He chose specifically and concretely — it was mercy. And that’s why Jesus Christ, crucified for us, is mercy Itself — He IS mercy.

And Mary, whose patronage we always seek, never fails in Her love, as the Mother of Mercy. She is the Mother of Christ, who IS Mercy, and so she is the Mother of Mercy. “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,” should be our prayer. If we are all about mercy, we should be very interested in the help of our Lord’s mother and we should be very committed to union with Jesus Christ, who in dying on the Cross, poured out, unbelievable, cascading waterfalls of mercy on the whole world, in a flood that destroyed evil with such power that the worst kinds of evil that we see today can be overcome, through the Lord.

Mercy begins today with each of us

For us, in a very real and profound way, Mercy begins today, with each act of forgiveness to which we are called. When I first reflected on these matters, I was blessed to be with the people of Boscobel, Muscoda, Avoca, and Clyde, who are completing the merger of their communities into one parish family — Corpus Christi Parish. I asked them to consider all of the acts of forgiveness, over the years — in their marriages, in their families, in their communities, and among their communities, which have made it possible for one community, in faith, now to stand. It was a tremendous celebration, with some great people.

And the same goes for all of us, whether we’re undertaking a parish merger or not. The acts of forgiveness and mercy are what allow us to go forward, in love, as one united body, even despite our individual sins. For it is Christ’s Mercy, poured out on us, that overcomes our own weaknesses, and which makes us His people.

September 11th provides a perfect lesson about evil and its power, and, more importantly a lesson about mercy and Jesus Christ with Mary, and the power that mercy provides in a broken world. We do not relent in our seeking for justice (mercy and justice go hand-in hand), but let us join Mary, in praying to her Son, that we truly will be a place of mercy, a school of mercy, so that evil in the world and evil in our own lives will be conquered by the only force strong enough to conquer it — mercy!

Thank you all for reading this! God bless each one of you! Praised be Jesus Christ!