November 12, 2014: Faithful Love
Padre Pio, a much revered priest (now a saint), wanted to go to confession; he enlisted the aid of a young priest to do so, who was intimidated by this mystic sage. “Padre Pio launched into the opening prayer: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned’; to the young priest’s surprise, Padre Pio, as he confessed, burst out weeping. Immediately the young priest wanted to console Pio that he had not done anything so bad but Pio countered, ‘Listen my son, you think like many others that sin is breaking the law. It’s not that: it is infidelity to love.’ ”
Infidelity to love. When we sin, we violate a sacred trust we made to the One who gave all for us. We break our bridal vow. We can ask God for an authentic sensitivity to our divine Spouse, that any dullness of conscience would be exposed and burned off in the light of Love. We then pray that we would resume our path of faithfulness to Christ alone, which of course means the way we can love others with sensitivity and depth.
Tenderized and strengthened by mercy, we are not quick to judge others in the Church. In truth, we are simply grateful to have a place in that community at all. Still, faithfulness to Christ compels us to identify and ‘pull the beam out of our own eye in order to see the speck in our brother’s’ (Matt. 7:5). We would rather not see that speck at all, to continue in the illusion that all is well in the Church. Isn’t it enough that we take care of our own needy temples?
Sadly, much of our ‘non-judgmentalism’ is a form of cowardice. Feigning humility, we are actually bucking our responsibility to Jesus Himself. For there are times when we must see things as they are—the sin of Jesus’ members that pose a threat to the integrity of His house. We then, in fear and trembling, can proceed to make known our concern to the member in question.
Many times I have exercised this concern when friends in the Church began to cross boundary lines, sexually-speaking, with other members. Perhaps the most potent example of this occurred early on in a Living Waters group. A man spoke candidly but without conviction about the impact of sexual sin upon his spouse. He claimed that his wife was OK, that it had not really hurt her. A wife in the group, still raw from the effect of her husband’s infidelity, began to weep. She gently challenged the man’s dullness, which invited him to repent. In truth, that encounter was the beginning of his repentance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes best about faithful love as we tell the truth in the community of God: ‘When another Christian falls into obvious sin, an admonition is imperative because God’s Word demands it. The practice of discipline in the community begins with friends who are close to one another. Words of correction must be risked when a lapse from God’s Word in doctrine and life endangers a community that lives together, and with it, the whole community of faith. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.’
Please join us as we pray for:
Upper Midwest Region, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Jean Mersberger – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Jean, for existing groups and for new groups to be established.
Foundazione Novae Terrae (www.novaeterrae.eu) Italy: Strength and provision to fight for ‘right to life’ measures throughout Europe.
Syracuse Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.
“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”