mercy like the father

The chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a color. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.

Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. In a word, God paints in many colors; but God never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when God paints in white.

—G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

Too much of our mental and spiritual energy is spent trying to stop ourselves from doing what is wrong rather than throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into doing what is right.

We ask God over and over again why bad things happen—God responds only with Goodness. It’s not satisfying. Rather than wanting goodness, we want evil explained away. But there’s no response to evil other than good. In the splendor of light, darkness loses its grip.

We lurk in the shadows, afraid. Light shines, unafraid. Light gives birth to light. Mercy gives birth to mercy. Abstaining from punishment still enables the economy of punishment—simply refraining does not renew. Reformation calls for action—repentance is not self-affliction, but a small gift of grace, placed on the scales.

When the shadows dog your heels, just turn on the lights.

1 comment

  1. I regretfully disagree – in part. In the Tibetan Book of The Dead the funeral ritual is commenced to call to the Dead, ‘Keep to the Light’. In death, the closer one gains presence to the Light, the closer to Originality. The sooner one strays, as the light’s brightness is not harsh, quite the contrary, Merciful, and one may not always feel worthy, and one can find themselves living again short of Originality. Using the Parable Mathew 19:16, I am, equivocally, equally afraid of walking into that light as I am standing in this darkness.


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