Amoris Laetitia 28: Tenderness and Intimacy

amoris laetitia memeRemember that the whole document Amoris Laetitia is in pdf format here.

Pope Francis gets to the point of this last section of Chapter One: tenderness.

28. Against this backdrop of love so central to the Christian experience of marriage and the family, another virtue stands out, one often overlooked in our world of frenetic and superficial relationships. It is tenderness. Let us consider the moving words of Psalm 131. As in other biblical texts (e.g., Ex 4:22; Is 49:15; Ps 27:10), the union between the Lord and his faithful ones is expressed in terms of parental love. Here we see a delicate and tender intimacy between mother and child: the image is that of a babe sleeping in his mother’s arms after being nursed. As the Hebrew word gamûl suggests, the infant is now fed and clings to his mother, who takes (them) to her bosom. There is a closeness that is conscious and not simply biological. Drawing on this image, the Psalmist sings: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast” (Ps 131:2). We can also think of the touching words that the prophet Hosea puts on God’s lips: “When Israel was a child, I loved him… I took them up in my arms… I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hos 11:1, 3-4).

Three thoughts occur to me.

First, I recall the ICEL translation of Psalm 51 and the lead line of the text, “Have mercy tender God, forget that I defied you.” I think we do well to call upon God and remind ourselves that God’s treatment of us is indeed tender.

Second, the Hosea passage that gives us that beautiful image of tenderness. This is show, not tell. It is also an outstanding passage for the Rite of Penance. Clergy may be more focused on readings for the communal forms, but it’s important not to overlook the possibilities when the sacrament is celebrated with one penitent. How many penitents need to hear that story of a loving parent taking a child into an embrace, and envision that they too are beckoned into that imtimacy?

And last, with the citation of Psalm 131, we have another of those pilgrimage songs from the Psalter. Along with the 127th, cited twice in this chapter, these three were all part of the annual journey to the Temple. We might be a family, but we are also a family on the move, making a journey to something far better than our current sin-hampered existence.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Amoris Laetitia 28: Tenderness and Intimacy

  1. Liam says:

    People will not necessarily grasp tenderness and intimacy if they have little experience of it in their lives.

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