Changing the faithful v changing the faith

I’ve seen it written that Pope Francis is more intent on changing the faithful rather than changing the faith.  When I think of this past year, there is truth in that statement.  Pope Francis has done more to change the tone of the discussion rather than the doctrine of the Church.  He is about changing the way the Church serves than the “what” it teaches.  He has modeled a way of life rather than condemning the sinners we encounter along the way.

Pope Francis is asking us to let our hearts move us.

In the Gospel [Matthew 5:17-37] Jesus does not erase or compromise the commandments.  Rather, he challenged those who were listening to go a little deeper — to get to THE HEART OF THE MATTER.  Just because I have not murdered someone, does not mean I have made a 100%, A+ on the commandment regarding “killing”.  There’s a matter of anger, that has to be dealt with also.

Jesus is asking us to go deeper than the surface of thinking — to the heart of feeling and sensing.

Those in front of Jesus asked him to deal with the matter of divorce — 2000 years later, we are still dealing with the issue.  In preparation for a Synod on the Family, Pope Francis has asked Catholics around the world to share their opinions on various issues related to family life — including how the Church can make those men and women who have experienced the pain of divorce feel welcome in the Church and to see if there is a way to welcome back to the sacraments those who have divorced and remarried.  And — at the same time — upholding the ideal of life-long marriage.

The Pope is inviting people to look at the law ….. and to be led by the Spirit.  Will style and attitude influence doctrine?

There is a wisdom — a mature wisdom — a mysterious wisdom — hidden — “which none of the rulers of this age knew.”  [1 Cor. 2:6-10]  Wait a minute — a wisdom exists — which none of the rulers of this age — even Church leaders??? — knew about.  God has prepared something special for those who love him.

Jesus came to fulfill — to fulfill the law of love.  He came to make people whole.

Pope Francis says, “Who am I to judge?”

In the responsorial psalm, we pray, “Give me discernment that I may observe your law and keep it will all my heart.”  Maybe the law is not as clear — as definitive as we once thought it to be.

This past week some people seemed horrified that an out of the closet gay man would be playing in the NFL.  John Stewart on the Daily Show reflected how illogical those who made that judgment could be — after all, there are those in the NFL who have raised dogs to fight, killed them and buried them — there are those who have been arrested for murder — for sexual assault — for driving under the influence … who have yelled the “N word” into an open mike at a concert —- that is somehow not as bad as an openly gay man in the locker room.

Yes — time is changing a lot of things.  Some things just are not the same as they use to be.  People change their minds and their opinions.  What was once not imaginable is now plausible, and even real somewhere.  Again, will style influence doctrine? Changing the human heart is not so easy.

What changes the heart — human experience.

Once we lose a parent, we know what others are going through who have lost a parent.

We might have an opinion about people on food stamps — but have someone in your family on food stamps, that’s another story.

Feelings about “gay people” — how different it is when a friend comes out, or a son or daughter identifies himself/herself as being gay and proud.

When I was young, so few classmates came from a “broken home” — but when a family member goes through divorce today — that sense  of being “broken” is so different.

The old adage of walking a mile in another’s shoes — what a teacher!!!

For those who want to keep the faith just the way it has always been — is that the faith of the first century?  or the 2nd century?  or how about the 13th century?  or the 1950’s? or the faith of Jesus?


About thegospelforliving

Retired Catholic Priest - now serving the community as a paralegal and charter school consultant.
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