Thursday, August 31, 2017



I was watching KET the other afternoon and stumbled on to a program called Waltzing Forever. It is one of their many "smaltzy" programs, this time featuring Viennese waltz music. What grabbed my attention where the many waltzing couples that included a couple with a woman in a wheelchair being whirled in the air. As they were all singing "Still in Love With you," the camera panned on older couples looking into each others eyes, gay couples embracing and hundreds of typical couples exchanging kisses.

What ran through my mind, especially when I saw the wheelchair-bound waltzer being whirled into the air, was this. Why don't we look for more ways to include people, rather than exclude them? This philosophy, theology really, has been at the heart of my ministry from day one since I believe it was at the heart of Jesus' ministry.

I am thrilled with Pope Francis in this regard. Like the Good Shepherd himself, he is always, sometimes to the chagrin of his critics, challenging our church to go to the margins. One of the best compliments of my life came from a classmate priest, who works in another part of the world. "He said, "Go to the margins? You've been doing that long before Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina   became Pope Francis!" 

One person, about 1987, labeled the Cathedral of the Assumption parish when I was there as "The Island of Misfit Toys." This was one of the greatest compliments that we ever received. It comes, of course from the children's "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Christmas Special. "The Island of Misfit Toys" was an island where broken toys could go to be repaired so that "they, too, could be part of Christmas."


13 February 2015 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome
The Church must reject becoming a closed-off caste and instead be willing to serve the marginalised and those who have lost faith, Pope Francis said this morning. 
In an impassioned homily at a Mass celebrated with his new cardinals, the Pope said the Church needs to “leave her four walls” to go out and find those on the outskirts of life. 
The homily has already been described as a “mission statement” of Francis’ pontificate which has seen an emphasis on a Church of mercy that seeks to be on the margins or “peripheries”.
The Pope said: “There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost.”
Francis added that ecclesial thinking is at a crossroads between the “doctors of the law” who want to cast people out and the “thinking of God”, which is to stress mercy and reinstatement. 
“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity [but] to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart,” he said during the homily in St Peter’s Basilica. “The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those on the ‘outskirts of life’.”
He went on to tell the new cardinals – who concelebrated the Mass today with him – to learn how to speak the right words to all those “considered incurable and hence untouchable”. In this way, the Pope told them, they will find ways of healing people and understand the “logic” of Jesus. 
“I urge you to serve the Church in such a way that Christians – edified by our witness – will not be tempted to turn to Jesus without turning to the outcast, to become a closed caste with nothing authentically ecclesial about it,” the Pope said. 
“I urge you to serve Jesus in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith or turned away from the practice of their faith; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper – whether in body or soul – who encounters discrimination!”
He added: “We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalised!”  

No comments:

Post a Comment