Dr. Jessie Rogers is a lecturer in Biblical Studies who describes herself an ecumenical Christian. She welcomes the Pope’s Year of Mercy as a way of opening up people to the possibility of changing.
This is the first of a series of interviews which Irish Jesuit Communications, in conjunction with the Irish Jesuit Province delegate for ecumenism Brian O’Leary SJ, have conducted with Christians of various denominations concerning their understanding of ‘mercy’ in this Year of Mercy.
In this discussion with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications Dr. Rogers looks at the unfolding meaning of mercy in the Old and New Testament. She finds one of the the Hebrew words for mercy or merciful particularly appealing as it has it’s root in the word for ‘womb’,”God’s womb-tenderness is a way of translating it… and it’s central to how God looks on u and responds to us with deep compassion almost coming from God’s womb. As a mother I can really relate to that.”
She also examines the role of mercy as challenged by the concept of justice and says that no matter what the claim of justice is, it is always trumped my ‘mercy’. One of the ways of resolving the potential impasse between mercy and just she says, is the concept of ‘restorative justice’ which has its focus on reconciliation between victims and criminals and creates the opportunity for the perpetrator to change. She uses the example of the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. “By not condemning the woman, Jesus gives her that inner capacity to grow and love and so his edict to her to go and sin no more becomes a possibility.”
As an ecumenical Christian she concludes that the church’s business, (using the term ‘church in its broadest sense) is about reaching the world with the love of God. She believes that is what Pope Francis is trying to do in this Jubliee Year of Mercy.