Today’s Thoughts: “The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.” (Pope Francis)
I thought of these words by Pope Francis as I read today’s Gospel (Matt. 19: 3-12). Over the past two and a half years there has been a lot of discussion within the Church about family life, marriage and the divorced and separated and I would guess that many who lean toward a more traditional or legalistic view of the Church might point toward today’s Gospel as a reference point in saying that we should not change our stance on marriage especially in terms of the divorced and separated. Yet, I often wonder if that is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke these words.
Now to be sure there is no way to know what Jesus meant or was thinking when he challenged the Pharisees and his disciples with the words found in today’s Gospel however, if we consider the whole of his life and ministry we might point to the words of Pope Francis as a way of looking at Jesus’ words today. I am certain that Jesus’ words highlight the sacredness and importance of marriage. Making a lifelong commitment speaks volumes about two people’s love. Jesus’ life was a lifelong commitment of love for us.
However, Jesus’ life was also about mercy, forgiveness and encouragement. Think about his conversation with the woman at the well. Did he tell her to go, get her life in order then come back and see him about the “living water?” No, he looked past her struggles, her relationships and welcomed her into the mercy of God and as the story goes it made all the difference.
We all make mistakes, some small and some big. At times, we think we are in love when we really aren’t. We believe we have found the right person and yet we haven’t. We try to do our best and sometimes no matter how hard we try it just isn’t our best. We say forever and sometimes it isn’t. We work hard at relationships but sometimes they are beyond our control because the other person walks away. Don’t you think God, who knows all these things, is still willing to sit and talk with us at the wells of our life? You better believe he is! So why aren’t we as a Church just as willing?
The Eucharist is an altar of sacrifice and a table of forgiveness. The Eucharist is a place of welcome for everyone who believes. The Church is Eucharist thus we need to be a community where God’s mercy is freely given where all are welcome, forgiven, loved and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel!
Have a great Friday everyone.
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Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...