Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

Mercy vs Human Respect

All too often human respect causes us to act contrary to what is best. Human respect often gives rise to what appears to be mercy, but might actually be false mercy. Withholding the truth or embracing attractive lies is one way false mercy is exercised. For example, a pathetic excuse for a politician recently promised that we would have, within the next ten years, airplanes that would travel 21,000 miles per hour, that a car could be able to travel from coast to coast on a single tank of gas, and that our trains would go as fast as airliners. An airplane that flies at 21,000 miles per hour would be 37 times faster than current commercial jets, 16 times faster than the Concorde, nearly 10 times faster than the fastest military jet ever flown, and 4.5 times faster than the all-time speed record held by an experimental single-seat rocket plane. That rocket plane had a range of less than 300 miles and used over 2,500 gallons of fuel in the process. Such an airliner is literally incredible. Much the same can be said of a car that gets nearly 200 miles to the gallon, roughly 4 times more than the most economical cars in current production. A train that goes about 4 times as fast as the fastest passenger train operated by AMTRAK might be technically feasible (unlike the promised 21,000 mph airliner) but would require gargantuan amounts of money to build and operate even over a short distance. It would be much, much cheaper and much more economical to fly on our existing airliners. Most incredible of all is that the government would make all of this possible. Right.

That these outlandish and utterly unattainable promises went unchallenged by the press is unbelievable. Why no challenge or correction? Human respect. It is worrisome that a politician could make such promises especially since it was a prepared speech – surely someone could have and should have checked those figures – but that the press remained mostly silent on these claims is shocking. The outlandish claims might be explained in one of three ways. First, the politician is a doddering fool surrounded by a flotilla of fools. Second, the government is exploiting UFO technology. Or, third, we have discovered and unlimited supply of magic pixie dust that will suspend the laws of physics to make such advances possible. From the press’ perspective, however, human respect is the only answer. They know that this politician is mentally compromised by some form of dementia, but since he is ‘their guy’ and shares their immoral values, the truth goes unreported.

That this man is non compos mentis must be of grave concern. Human respect does no one any favors in this instance. What is needed is true mercy. The merciful thing to do is to admit the truth and act upon it. Overlooking and covering up his flaws serves no purpose. The same can be said of not challenging and holding accountable murderous and lecherous governors. What happens when demented or murderous or lecherous politicians are given a pass out of human respect? We continue to have demented, lecherous, and murderous politicians. For the sake of political correctness and human respect, the norm will continue to be political corruption, immorality, and injustice.

True mercy cannot be separated from the truth. False mercy frequently embraces a lie or withholds the truth. We have bishops, priests, deacons, and religious who promote sinful behaviors or who fail to teach right from wrong all because of human respect. They will promise that annulments are unnecessary or that confessing mortal sins is merely optional. One almost wonders if they would change Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery from “Go and sin no more” to ‘Carry on as you were.’ They would argue that surely Jesus would have spared her feelings. Right.

Jesus did not come to spare anyone’s feelings and He certainly did not lie to us. No, He came to spare us from eternal damnation. In His mercy He promises that those who have faith, hope, love, and do the will of the Father, thereby having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, will be saved. What He promised would be more impossible than a 21,000 mph airliner if it were not for His divine grace. Access to that divine grace, especially through the sacraments, comes to us by His divine mercy, not because we are wonderful, great, or deserving. The truth, the merciful truth, is that we are sinners and deserve hell, and the merciful truth is that Jesus came that we might not get what we deserve.

—Fr Booth