I didn’t plan on writing today. I spent much of my afternoon stamping and updating my card blog and gallery. I also spent (too much) time on Facebook reading silly stuff and some serious stuff. I read a few threads that really bothered me…and so I decided to jot down a few thoughts.
There was a lot about admonishing sinners and sharing God’s Word in today’s readings. In today’s culture, we hear so often that we “are not supposed to judge.” Well, that is only partly true. We are not supposed to judge anyone’s heart. That is clearly for God alone. But yes, we do judge people’s actions. That’s why we tell our kids to not lie, don’t take what doesn’t belong to them, don’t hit each other, etc. It is why most people dislike office gossip or the worker who isn’t pulling her own weight. It is why we generally gasp when we hear about someone having an affair. Most people raised in our Judeo-Christian culture have a sense of right and wrong.
In today’s Gospel passage (Matthew 18:15-20), Jesus gives us instruction on how to handle a person who has sinned against us. First, we are to go directly to that person ourselves. Not Facebook, not our neighbor, not our co-worker. How easy is it to ignore Jesus’ very basic principle here? Too easy! But even if we get that right, and the person doesn’t respond, we are to call in 2 or 3 witnesses…and if that doesn’t work, tell the church.
“If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
I have heard this reading often. I know it is a major basis for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That first sentence seems to give us permission to write someone off.
But this morning at Mass, my pastor, Father Greg Nelson, shared a different perspective. Either it was completely new, or it just resonated with me for the very first time. Treat people like a Gentile or tax collector…hmmm. From our perspective, it is to write someone off. But from the heart of Jesus Whom we are to imitate, these words are very different! Jesus talked with, ate with, laughed with so many people that others had written off. He knew they needed Him…they needed His love! Our second reading was from Romans 13:8-10.
“Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
We must be about LOVE, because Christ is Love Incarnate!
So, what does this have to do with post-abortive women? EVERYTHING! I saw 2 posts on Facebook from a prolife media source. Both of these stories, which were about women who supported legal abortion, garnered many comments…and many of them saddened me. One article was titled “What Should You Say to a Woman Who is Happy She had an Abortion?” It is written by Josh Brahm, someone I have never met but hope to someday. The comments on Facebook included hateful, insulting things from people who are “prolife Christians.” Many people wrote things like “I would tell her she is a hateful monster,” “I can’t believe she is so selfish,” “She’s a murderer.” One person even wrote “Too bad your mom didn’t feel the same way and aborted you.”
Are you kidding me? Too bad your mom didn’t abort you?? I thought we hated abortion! I thought we want to erase it from the face of the earth! This same person wrote virtually the same comment on the other article, and I had to reply “If you oppose abortion, you must realize this makes NO sense.”
Another person wrote that he would “never be friends” with someone who was happy about having an abortion. I asked him if his friends were all perfect. I also told him that there is a good chance one of his friends/family members/co-workers IS post-abortive and okay with it…he probably just doesn’t know it. It is unlikely she would feel comfortable confiding in him.
Look, abortion is a heinous act, an affront to the Dignity of the Human Person. It is an insult to God and His creative power. I won’t tip-toe around those tulips. I hate abortion and what is has done to our culture.
But I believe in the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ!! I refuse to give up on women who have had abortions, or the parents who insisted on them, or the men who paid for them, or even the doctors who perform them. How in the world can we talk about love for the unborn baby while spewing hate and condemnation for anyone who is post-abortive? The old cliche rings true: Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Jesus loves sinners…thanks be to God…because I am one of them!
So yes, we must confront people who hurt us, or who sin against God…we must share the Truth of our faith…we must not compromise on that Truth. But it all must be done with LOVE.
I thought this was going to be brief…ha! But it nearly midnight. I need to go to bed before I turn into a pumpkin. May the Divine Love & Mercy of Jesus Christ grant me…and you…a restful sleep.