In the journey of the Christian, truth is not negotiable; rather, a Christian must be just in mercy, as Jesus teaches us.
That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father warned against hypocrisy and the deception of a faith reduced to a “casuistic logic.”
“Is it lawful for a husband to put away his wife?” That is the question the doctors of the law put to Jesus in the day’s Gospel.
Jesus does not give in to a casuistic logic, but always explains the truth
They asked the question to once more put Jesus to the test, the Pope observed. Looking to Jesus’ answer, the Pope explained what matters most in the faith:
“Jesus does not answer whether it is lawful or not lawful; He doesn’t enter into their casuistic logic. Because they thought of the faith only in terms of ‘Yes, you can,” or “No, you can’t” – to the limits of what you can do, the limits of what you can’t do. That logic of casuistry. And He asks a question: “But what did Moses command you? What is in your Law?” And they explained the permission Moses had given to put away the wife, and they themselves fall into the trap. Because Jesus qualifies them as ‘hard of heart’: ‘Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment,’ and He speaks the truth. Without casuistry. Without permissions. The truth.”
The logic of casuistry is hypocritical, deceptive
But if this is the truth, and adultery is serious, how then, the Pope asks, does one explain that Jesus spoke “many times with an adulteress, a pagan?” That He “drank from the glass of her who was not purified?” And at the end He said to her: “I do not condemn you. Sin no more”? How does one explain that?
“And the path of Jesus – it’s quite clear – is the path from casuistry to truth and mercy. Jesus lays aside casuistry. Not here, but in other passages from the Gospel, He qualifies those who want to put Him to the test, those who think with this logic of ‘Yes, you can’ as hypocrites. Even with the fourth commandment these people refused to assist their parents with the excuse that they had given a good offering to the Church. Hypocrites. Casuistry is hypocritical. It is a hypocritical thought. ‘Yes, you can; no, you can’t’… which then becomes more subtle, more diabolical: But what is the limit for those who can? But from here to here I can’t. It is the deception of casuistry.
From casuistry to truth to mercy: this is the Christian path
The path of the Christian, then, does not give into the logic of casuistry, but responds with the truth, which is accompanied, following the example of Jesus, by mercy – “because He is the Incarnation of the Mercy of the Father, and He cannot deny Himself. He cannot deny Himself because He is the truth of the Father, and He cannot deny Himself because He is the Mercy of the Father.”
Justice and mercy: This is the path that makes us happy
“And this street that Jesus teaches us,” the Pope noted, is difficult to apply in the face of the temptations of life:
“When the temptation touches your heart, this path of going out from casuistry to truth and mercy is not easy: It takes the grace of God to help us to go forward in this way. And we should always ask for it. ‘Lord, grant that I might be just, but just with mercy.’ Not just, covered by casuistry. Just in mercy. As You are. Just in mercy. Then, someone with a casuistic mentality might ask, “But what is more important in God? Justice or mercy?’ This, too, is a sick thought, that seeks to go out… What is more important? They are not two things: it is only one, only one thing. In God, justice is mercy and mercy is justice. May the Lord help us to understand this street, which is not easy, but which will bring us happiness, and will make so many people happy.”