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.” – Pope Francis
There is much fighting in the church these days. The “liberals” vs. ”conservatives” but we cannot put Jesus in a box. Jesus should not, and does not fit into our political labels. Jesus is love. Jesus is truth. Jesus is the way. I often feel in our day and age people try to divorce things that belong together. People are forced to choose sides. And neither side listens to the other.
I once knew a woman who had an abortion. As a Catholic we know the killing of the unborn is gravely sinful. Suppose I walked up to this woman and said, “you are sinful and your sin will send you to hell.” Do you think she would listen to me? I don’t. What if instead, I said, “you are a child of God who loves you. Tell me your story, and let me know your suffering. Then together let’s walk and get to know our God who is great.” Did I condone her sin? No, I told her the truth, God loves her and I want to walk with her to get to know Him. In time as her relationship with the God she originally said “no” to gets repaired she will be able to repent and say “yes.” She can say yes because someone walked the path through the suffering with her. Someone loved her enough to show her the truth instead of judging and condemning her.
On the flip side, if I were to say to her, “what you did wasn’t a sin,” I would be telling her a lie. It would not help to heal her soul. It would probably encourage her further down the road to perdition. We need to acknowledge grave matters and lovingly show the path to Jesus.
The law is God’s way of revealing the path to happiness. God left us the law that is really written on our hearts. If we follow his law we will most definitely be more fulfilled in life. But as St. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians, if we have not love, we have nothing. I see people trying to divorce these two things on both sides. One side says, in the name of love don’t point out the thing they did wrong, when in fact the matter is very grave. While the other side says, tell them how wrong they are without first showing them love. Neither of these approaches radiate the mercy that our great and loving God has for us.
I say no to both of these. Love and Law go hand in hand. Say to the person on the street who is sinning (just as we all are), tell me your story, tell me your sufferings, and let me show you a way to heal that hurt and lead you to a path that will fulfill you beyond your wildest imagination.
Each person we pass on the street is suffering something. Each person is a child of God. And each person has the capability of being a great Saint, if only we stop judging, and start listening. To the condemners we say, Judge not lest ye be judged, and to the sinner we say, go and sin no more.