At Home, to Heal
‘Christians who are afraid to build bridges and prefer to build walls are Christians who are not sure of Jesus Christ. When the Church loses this apostolic courage, she becomes a stalled Church, a tidy Church, a Church without fertility, because she has lost the courage to go to the many people who are victims of idolatry, of worldliness, of weak thought…Those who do not walk in order not to err make the more serious mistake.’ Pope Francis
Jesus suffered to heal us, to restore what was lost in our merciless lives.
I live to help make His Church a juncture for mercy–that encounter between our real suffering and the fruit of His. Imagine my delight when, last month, we started our first Living Waters group ever in an American Catholic parish.
About 25 men and women, Protestants and Catholics, gather in admitted brokenness under the one Cross. We have names for our distress: sexual addiction, same-sex attraction, abuse, and the havoc these things had wrecked on our single and married lives. Most importantly, we dare to believe that mercy has a name, Jesus Christ, and that His Church is the best place to expose the broken ground of our lives to His.
We shall covenant together for twenty weeks to exchange fear and shame and exaggerated desires for His desire to call us His own, His treasured ones who please Him as we seek to treasure others, to not reduce them to objects of fear or lust but rather to see Christ in and though them.
It is messy. We see Him and others through blood-shot eyes. But His Spirit has gathered us, and the Son has gone before us, and has granted us access to the Father whose love, mediated through each other, surpasses our old weak definitions.
I believe in living an integrated life: to be known where I worship. That means securing a place where I can voice my need constructively to the Christ present in my brother and sister. How else will we overcome shameful sins, hidden in darkness? How else will relational wounds heal?
Last year, as I waited in line at Mass, I noticed something beautiful. I saw Karen who has been equally wounded and converted by a gay-identified loved one, then Kenn who struggles daily to be free from Internet porn. A ways back was Tim, abused by a priest and yet still hungry for Jesus, and Sue, so intent on Christ that she would rather confess her same-gender attraction as a need for God rather than as a socio-political declaration.
I had met each of them in a series of small groups I had run prior to Living Waters. Now together, as one broken body, we waited before Christ Crucified to partake of the fruit of His suffering. Under the Cross, His Body broken for us, I could see it: we are becoming the Body, broken for each other. Healing and joy rises from the feast Jesus has prepared for us.
‘You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest.’ (IS 9: 3)