Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

Lets Meet People Where They Are

Jan 9, 2017

Holy Mother Church is going through a very interesting time within the core leadership. Pope Francis has been calling for the church's pastors to be more connected to the people of the Church and less intent on the letter of the law. When you start connecting with people you begin to enter into their messes. There are few people who d not have some sort of mess going on in their lives.

In Genesis 2 the second story of the creation of human beings is told. God builds a human being out of the clay of the earth and then breaths His Spirit into him. The man comes alive and as God looks at him he realizes that this being is too perfect, it needs nothing (including God). To attempt to repair this problem God creates all the different animals and presents each to the man, but the story tells us that he could not find a suitable companion. Finally God places Adam into a deep sleep (I have been told the Hebrew translation says that God kills him) and takes a rib from him and builds up a woman. When God reawakens this now broken being and shows him the woman Adam says: "Now at last this is bone from bone, flesh from my flesh" and he takes her for his companion. From this point onward humanity is an intentionally flawed being. In the next generation Cain murders his brother Abel in a fit of jealousy and the story continues outward from there.

People are going to have messes in their lives and the Church's task according to Pope Francis is to meet them where they are and love them into a new being. Over the course of the centuries this prime calling seems to have gotten lost into a morass of laws and consequences for failure. We have whole generations of pastors who have taught a rigid perfectionism that demand obedience and when human beings do what they normally do they are condemned for being broken. These pastors exist in some Cardinals of the Church and some Bishops and priests even today. These men of the Church are concerned that Pope Francis' approach is complicating the perfect moral structure of the Church. Several of the Cardinals have written a letter to him asking five yes or no questions. The letter is called a dubia. When the Pope chose not to answer their letter they published it into the world. It is causing a great dialogue within the Church world. The moral perfectionists are very threatened by what they consider a lapsed moral teaching while others are welcoming this new leadership saying it is a more humane approach to the brokenness of humanity.

I am not sure how to find comfort in a rigid moral system that only offers a temporary relief from human failure through the sacrament of Reconciliation. I find I take great comfort in the teaching of Pope Francis. It seems much more realistic to meet people where they are and to love them as they are. It has always been my hope that if I can do that for others so they too may love me in my flaws and failures. Instead of seeing people as problems that need to be fixed I would rater see them as opportunities to grow in love.

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