If Jesus was to come into our Churches today, what would he see? What would he think? What would he exhort us to do? Maybe our faith communities no longer have money changers at the door, but it does not mean the Church has its fullest realization of its mission in the world. As I was praying with this passage and the interview that Pope Francis gave early in his pontificate came to mind. I have included a few passages that pertain to his vision for the Church.
“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.
“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”
What do I feel Jesus would say if He were to visit my faith community? What is one thing that Pope Francis said that excites and challenges me?
(Excerpts taken from “A Big Heart Open to God” in America Magazine; please see the full interview transcript here)