I love it when Pope Francis speaks, or goes somewhere, because no matter what else, I'm going to:
Of course his latest trip was like that, but times a thousand because he went to the land of hyperbole and spin, the land of the free! (I’m just teasing, I love the US) Every presidential hopeful seemed to find some way to be able to say “SEE! He agrees with me! I should be president!” In the aftermath of all of this I read a lot of commentary from Catholics, and I heard two opinions come forth again and again. One on what the media would assign as the ‘left’ saying that Pope Francis is just sooooo progressive (never mind Pope Benedict XVI laid some key theological foundation and also did a lot of the really cool things that we see Pope Francis doing… Benedict looked like emperor Palpatine so he must be all evil and religious), and on the other, the folks the media would call the ‘right’ lamenting that he’s not firm enough in his condemnation of various cultural sins in the western world. I think the most extreme thing I read was that the papacy has ‘fully abandoned’ the pro-life movement to the wolves of modern liberalism and was destroying the family.
The thing I find so fascinating, is that if you look deep enough, both of these seemingly opposing positions come from the teachings of the same guy.
It seems like our religion is forced to split itself into camps. The people who hear the mercy side of the message, and the ones who answer the call to stamp out sin. I find folks who tend towards the first camp know the merciful stories like the woman caught in adultery, or Zaccheaus up in the tree, and the folks who tend towards the second camp love the stories like Jesus cleansing the temple. I actually read an article not long ago about that one that had a title along the lines of ‘5 times Jesus didn't act very Christlike’. Seriously… I'm not joking.
So then the question is how do we, in our daily lives, navigate these seemingly opposing ways of being, when we’re called to be loving and non-judgemental in a world that endorses all kinds of sin that we’re called to fight against? I'm not going to pretend my answers to these questions are perfect, but I think if we look at all of our role models together, starting with Jesus, and looking at Popes like Francis and Benedict XVI honestly, we can get a decent idea of how to proceed. And so with that in mind, please find below my checklist of how to show the love of Christ to someone, and still disagree with sin:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return” (emphasis mine)
I get chills reading that because all at once it demands I act with love and mercy, but still hold a high standard. I need to measure out my love in the standard of truth and courage because I need others to be truthful and courageous. But, I need to measure out mercy and pardon by the barrelful because over and over again, I've relied on the mercy and pardon of the people I love, and I'm sure as heck gonna need it from God when my judgement comes.
River guide, Engineer, Youth Minister, and now Teacher. The path God has given me is anything but straight. I’ve been blessed with an adventurous life and a wonder wife to share it with. I spend my days teaching math and physics, and my free time exploring the world’s rivers and mountains. Sharing the world through the lens of faith with my students is one of the coolest things I can imagine.