Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Synod15: Jesus came not for the healthy but for the sick

Synod depart

In an interview yesterday, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, spoke at length about his long-standing care for gay people, which became very public when, as the only religious leader in India he opposed its re-criminalization of homosexuality:
"Initially it began with involvement in civil law with banning homosexuality. I felt that was not right–indiscriminately putting everybody in same category. Therefore, I spoke, saying the Church was not in favor of this. This was a bit of a surprise to many people because of what they think the Church teaches. You must make a distinction with an individual, who is absolutely part of the Church, who we must care for, and who might have a [homosexual] orientation. You can’t put them in chains, or say we have no responsibility whatsoever. The law was struck down, but now it’s back again.

Subsequently, I met a few people also. I realized their goodness, that many people do not realize. They are often painted one way and the images are bad. My own view is that the Church has to be all-embracing, inclusive. and take care of everybody. Our moral principles are clear. I would be too worried that we are breaking our moral code or that the Church’s principles are shattered because we say that we are pastoral. The Catechism has said also that they must be cared for. Some people say you are going too far.

To not be welcoming would not be a Catholic attitude. It would not be Christ’s attitude, certainly. We have to be very compassionate, understanding, and open to people. [...]

[T]he Church is an all-embracing mother. The Church is mother and teacher. The mother does not send her children away, no matter what."
Yesterday also saw the publication of the intervention of Hervé Janson, the superior general of the Little Brothers of Jesus, who is the only non-priest participating in the Synod as a full member with voting rights. Brother Hervé spoke with great humility and evoked a strong sense of closeness with the families his order cares for:
"[B]y our vocation, in the imitation of Jesus of Nazareth, we live among the people in their neighborhoods, shoulder to shoulder with very simple families who often struggle as best they can to live and bring up their children. We are witnesses of so many families who, for me, are models of holiness; they are the ones who will receive us into the kingdom! And sometimes, I suffer from what our mother the church imposes on their backs, burdens which we ourselves would not be able to support, as Jesus said to the Pharisees! For there are many women and men who suffer from being rejected by their pastors."
He then gave some specific examples of families in need of welcome and closeness, and asked what Jesus would have done:
"I am thinking of these African Christian women I knew when I lived in Cameroon, spouses of a polygamous Muslim husband: they felt excluded from the church, unaccompanied, very much alone.

Among others, I think of a Belgi[an] family, good friends of mine; one of their daughters has admitted that she has lesbian tendencies, is living with another young woman and has decided to have a child through artificial insemination. The problem is how the parents should react, precisely as Christians parents. They have showered her with treasures of sensitivity, tenderness, and proximity!

Is the church not also a family and should it not have the same attitudes toward these men, these women so often helpless, in doubt and in darkness, feeling themselves excluded. What kind of proximity? What kind of accompaniment? What sort of attitude would Jesus have and what would he do in our place, as Father de Foucauld always asked himself?

He was filled with compassion when he saw the abandoned crowds.

He restored hope to this Samaritan woman by speaking to her, this foreign heretic in the eyes of the Jews, she who had had five husbands! “If you knew the gift of God!”"
And, finally, Brother Hervé presented a beautiful synthesis of what Pope Francis has been teaching every since the start of his pontificate:
"We who are all sinners, are invited to love one another and to let ourselves be comforted and healed by Jesus who came not for the healthy but for the sick. The Eucharist is the food of those who are in the process of forming the Body of Christ.

The mercy of God is for everyone. Jesus did not come to judge but to save what was lost. He gave his apostles and their successors a heavy responsibility with regard to his mercy: that of binding it or loosening it. Let us be firmly attached to Jesus and let us loosen through the Spirit which makes us free and links us together to Life."
And, finally, let us conclude again with the words of Pope Francis from this morning's homily, where he spoke about God's boundless love:
"How does God give [...] us our salvation? He gives it to us like he says he'll give it to us when we do a good deed: he will give us a good measure, pressed down, full, overflowing ... But this suggests abundance and this word 'abundance' is repeated three times [in today's first reading]. God gives in abundance to the point where Paul summarizes it like this: 'Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more'. Overflows, everything. And this is the love of God: without measure. All of himself.

The heart of God is not closed: it is always open. And when we arrive, like that son, he embraces us, kisses us: a God who celebrates.

God is not a mean God: He does not know meanness. He gives everything. God is not a God who stands still: He looks, waits for us to convert ourselves. God is a God who goes out: he goes out to look for us, to look for each one of us. But is this true? Every day he looks for us, he is looking for us. As he has already done, as he has already said, in the Word of the lost sheep and the lost coin: search. It is always like that.

It's true, we have the habit of always measuring situations, things with the measures we have: and our measures are small. Because of this, we will do well to ask the Holy Spirit's grace, pray to the Holy Spirit, the grace come closer at least a little bit, to understand this love and have the desire to be hugged, kissed with that measure without limits."