If you haven’t read part 1, start here. If you have read part 1, and are back for more, God bless you 🙂
So yesterday I shared a little about how I got to that place of becoming a little too “judgy” for my own good. Now, how to deal with it so that you can share the truth, defend the truth, and still love the people who don’t necessarily agree with you.
It’s the Year of Mercy, people, and sometimes I think we get mercy wrong. It’s not merciful to allow someone to continue in their ways when those ways are harmful to themselves and others — is it? Our job is to try our best to stay on the right path and help as many people as we can to get on that path and stay on that path.
St. John Paul II in his encyclical Mission of the Redeemer made it clear that we need to go out to the world and preach the Gospel.
“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9: 16) In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. Paul. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity.”
“Woe to me“. Have you ever googled the word “woe”? It’s not good. It means great sorrow or distress. Synonyms are: misery, wretchedness, heartbreak, despair, depression, regret. So, first thing we need to know is that there will be profound regret if we don’t share the gospel with people who are hungry for it. Maybe you won’t regret it today, but it will come and it will bring us to a depth of regret that only God’s mercy can overcome.
Think about this: one day you will die. It’s inevitable. One morning, you won’t wake up and you will meet God and face the final judgement. At this point, facebook likes and twitter followers aren’t going to matter. The only thing that matters is this: Did you love God with the best in you (even though sometimes your best is pretty darn lousy!)? and Did you love your neighbor as yourself?
Imagine the picture below is the waiting room for the final judgement. Imagine facing Jesus and saying, “I obeyed your commandments — I confessed all my sins when I messed up — I loved you.” Now imagine Jesus saying, “And why didn’t you share that truth with others? with your neighbors? with that annoying person in Church? Why did you take that treasure and bury it in your heart and not share it?” Yep, here’s where the woe hits you right across the face.
Now imagine a second scenario: you’re in the waiting room for the final judgement and its full of people waiting to testify to your efforts to share the Gospel. Imagine these amazing people — who weren’t so amazing at one point in their life — who are here for you. Imagine the tear-filled reunion with those people that may not have made it to heaven without your efforts to share the truth. Now imagine Jesus saying, “Well done, my good and faithful friend”. Yep, that’s where the opposite of woe happens: Jubilation? Joy? You name it, it’s gonna be better than that!
John Paul II’s quote above said that his direct contact with people is what compelled him. Point is, we need to mix with people all along the spectrum of faith, or how else can we share the Gospel with them?
It’s hard to love what you don’t know, so get to know people who might not see Catholicism the same way you do. Listen, there are people who want to change the teachings of the Church, and they are harder to love because they are so annoyingly militant in their campaign to change the Church — and it’s hard to be friendly with people that want to attack everything you love. I feel your pain!
But most people who aren’t exactly following dogma or doctrine fall into the category of good intentions without the best formation. Give them a pass, love them, and share with them what you have learned about the Church’s teachings — in love– or else it won’t be effective! When you love somebody, you want what’s best for them and so why wouldn’t you share the amazing riches that the Church has to offer?
A quick story: Once upon a time, I went to a party. I went to a party and had some beverages…too many beverages. These beverages happened to be alcoholic and I got sick…really sick…so sick that the parents of the house where I was staying called my parents to pick me up. There I was throwing up in a hefty garbage bag all the way home. My mom held my hair and kept silent. My dad drove silently. They cleaned me up and tucked me in bed.
The next morning, my dad came in. He told me two things. First, he let me know that getting drunk intentionally was a mortal sin. What? I had never known that. Why had I never known that before?! My Father was sharing the truth in love. And you know what? He was sparing me from many, many other heartaches by sharing that truth. Who knows, maybe I would have become an alcoholic or found myself in a dangerous situation because of my drunkenness?
The second thing that my father said was that he was “very disappointed in me”. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I began to cry because I had let my father down. That hurt far worse than my hangover, and I knew it would take time to regain his trust. My love for my father would become part of my motivation to change, and it’s why God knew we need to be in communion with each other.
And then he brought me to confession. He knew I needed to reconcile with my Father in heaven as well, and he took the time to accompany me on my way back to God. For the first time I confessed drunkenness to the priest. I felt a freedom in knowing the truth and confessing my sins and receiving the grace of that sacrament.
I began to change that day because of that truth spoken in love. I didn’t change right away, but over time, I changed. I began to adopt the ever popular St. Thomas Aquinas quote (popular with Philosophy majors anyway) “drink to the point of hilarity” as my motto. My dad’s love for me helped me to change, to get off a path that was only leading to death and destruction. We need to get to know people and to love people that much, or we’ll never say those hard things that need to be said. Let’s love people that much! End of Story.
Okay, this was another long one. I’m sorry for the rambling! I’m hoping this will help somebody out there who is just like me. Let’s go out there and just be Catholic — not liberal, not conservative — just Catholic! And let’s not forget that our job is to share the Gospel — the truth– in love.