Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Reflecting on yesterday's Gospel - the woman caught in adultery, - Pope Francis spoke of God's abundant mercy, which seems to be an emerging theme of his pontificate.

...Brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, an ever-patient one. Have you thought of God's patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That's his mercy. He's always patient, patient with us; he understands us, approaches us, he never tires of forgiving us if we know to turn to him with a contrite heart. "Great is the mercy of God," says the Psalmist. ...

the problem is that we get tired, we don't want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. He never gets tired of forgiving, but we at times, we get tired of asking forgiveness. May we never tire, let us never tire of it! He's the loving Father who always forgives, who has a heart of mercy for all of us. And even we can learn to be merciful with others. Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady, who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man...

PHOTO: L'Osservatore Romano


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink


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And let us not forget that He Who gave us The Spirit of Peace Is Christ..


Posted by: N.D. | Mar 18, 2013 10:24:59 AM

This is a very deep story for lawyers and the law. On one level it is a story about divine patience. Not quite divine mercy, because Jesus did not exonerate the woman, his gave her more time. That expresses the capacity of the law to affirm the centrality of guilt and innocence while tempering punishment.

There is something more however. When the Jewish prosecutors brought the woman before him, in effect dragging her before the court of Jesus judgement, he reacted in a very surprising way. He turned the trial into a jury trial. Since the crime in question was a act that undermines the community -- a crime against marital fidelity and against the cohesiveness of the community -- the right judges were the community. Adultery can destroy not only homes and families, but also spread conflict and bitterness throughout the community. Jesus asked the jurors to rule on the exact nature of her offense: had she caused conflict in the village, and they answered that ste had not. Or more precisely, noone answered that she had.

So for her, patience was called for, time to think about the implications of her action and time to change if she was so inclined. This is a new kind of law that Jesus taught: law not only of abstract principles, but law of context and law of ramifications. Law by jury and by seasoned human judgement.

We in America are very good at the law; we are natural lawyers and we are to be commended. Still it is wise of us to return to the roots of concepts like guilt and innocence to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbons | Mar 19, 2013 10:52:42 AM