Yesterday I posted about a person who was upset with the Christmas/Easter Catholics. He was pointing out their mortal sins of not attending Mass weekly. I posted that our responsibility is to love because that is what Jesus Christ would do. I received lots of feedback. The majority of the feedback was in agreement with Pope Francis, “Who are we to judge?”
However, there were a few people who said it is our job to point out their sins and shortcomings. One person brought up a good point we need parents to guide us and discipline us to show us the way. That is true. However, we are not the parents of these people who are returning to our church. We are the arms, hands, and voices of Jesus Christ on this earth. If the first time someone gets the courage to step foot into our Church they are approached with condescending stares and rude remarks, why would they ever return? We want people to come back to Church not because going to Church is a rule but because going to Church brings them closer to God. It is not the act of going to Church that brings people into a closer relationship with God. It is the people who surround them with love, it is the scriptures being heard and the Holy Spirit interpreting them in their minds. It is the sacraments being received. It is the prayer in the silence. None of this will occur if the person is paranoid about the staring glares of the unforgiving congregation remarking about their normal absence from Church.
If we want people to know, love and serve God, as we all should, then we need to create an atmosphere of love. Just like the loving father in the prodigal son. He didn’t scold his son for returning home. He ran to him with open arms welcoming him home. We too should be who Jesus Christ asked us to be, the person who loves others back to God. As Robert Barron said so well, “Love is not a characteristic of God. Love is God.” If we want to be so close to God that we don’t know where we end and he begins then all that we do for others should be to love them.