Pope head shotGerard O’Connell in American Magazine writes “Looking at the cardinals, he (Pope Francis) told them that “even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking.”

As I read the rest of the article I could feel the Pope’s eyes looking directly at me as well as at those who ask where is Pope Francis going. It also occurred to me that as we begin a Lent that is a call for conversion  or “change your way of thing” the rest of the article helps one to see the forest for all the trees and sound bites.

We also stand before two ways of thinking. Which will we choose?

From the article…

Looking at the cardinals, he told them that “even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking. The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation.”

In actual fact, he said, “These two ways of thinking are present throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating“.   He recalled how both Saints Peter and Paul caused scandal and encountered resistance when they followed Jesus’s example. When Saint Paul followed Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth he “caused scandal and met powerful resistance and great hostility” from those who demanded unconditional obedience to the Mosaic Law even from the pagans who converted.  Likewise, Saint Peter was bitterly criticized too by the (Christian) community when he entered the house of the pagan centurion Cornelius.

The first Latin American pope, who like Peter and Paul has also come under criticism from a small but influential minority of Church leaders and intellectuals for his compassion and openness, reminded the 160 members of the College of Cardinals that were concelebrating mass with him, that “from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, the Church’s way has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement.”

Perhaps anticipating objections, he assured them that “this does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold”, rather it means “welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world.”

“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity”, Pope Francis stated firmly. On the contrary, her way is “to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart.”

“The way of the Church is precisely to leave her fenced enclosure behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those on the “outskirts” of life”, Francis said in words that echoed his famous speech to the cardinals in the pre-conclave meetings.

“The way of the Church is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: “Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners to repentance”, the Pope stated.

“In healing the leper, Jesus does not harm the healthy”, Francis stated. “Rather, he frees them from fear. He does not endanger them, but gives them a brother. He does not devalue the law but instead values those for whom God gave the law.”

Well aware of the existence of “the elder brother syndrome” in the Church in some countries today, Pope Francis told the new cardinals that “Jesus frees the healthy from the temptation of the “older brother” (Lk 15:11-32), the burden of envy and the grumbling of the laborers who bore “the burden of the day and the heat” ( Mt 20:1-16).”

As the cardinals listed with attention to his every word, wondering what might come next, Francis declared: “Charity cannot be neutral, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial! Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages! For true charity is always unconditional and gratuitous”.

The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation.”

In actual fact, he said, “These two ways of thinking are present throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating“.   He recalled how both Saints Peter and Paul caused scandal and encountered resistance when they followed Jesus’s example. When Saint Paul followed Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth he “caused scandal and met powerful resistance and great hostility” from those who demanded unconditional obedience to the Mosaic Law even from the pagans who converted.  Likewise, Saint Peter was bitterly criticized too by the (Christian) community when he entered the house of the pagan centurion Cornelius.

The first Latin American pope, who like Peter and Paul has also come under criticism from a small but influential minority of Church leaders and intellectuals for his compassion and openness, reminded the 160 members of the College of Cardinals that were concelebrating mass with him, that “from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, the Church’s way has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement.”

Perhaps anticipating objections, he assured them that “this does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold”, rather it means “welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world.”

“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity”, Pope Francis stated firmly. On the contrary, her way is “to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart.”

“The way of the Church is precisely to leave her fenced enclosure behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those on the “outskirts” of life”, Francis said in words that echoed his famous speech to the cardinals in the pre-conclave meetings.

“The way of the Church is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: “Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners to repentance”, the Pope stated.

“In healing the leper, Jesus does not harm the healthy”, Francis stated. “Rather, he frees them from fear. He does not endanger them, but gives them a brother. He does not devalue the law but instead values those for whom God gave the law.”

Well aware of the existence of “the elder brother syndrome” in the Church in some countries today, Pope Francis told the new cardinals that “Jesus frees the healthy from the temptation of the “older brother” (Lk 15:11-32), the burden of envy and the grumbling of the laborers who bore “the burden of the day and the heat” ( Mt 20:1-16).”

As the cardinals listed with attention to his every word, wondering what might come next, Francis declared: “Charity cannot be neutral, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial! Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages! For true charity is always unconditional and gratuitous”.

The entire article is well worth reading but better yet read the original words of Pope Francis.

 

 


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