Le blog de la Bergerie
What do we do when those whom we love no longer share our faith, our deep values, and our morals? Suppose, to use a very common example, as a parent you have lost your own children in terms of practicing your faith. Your own children no longer go to church, no longer pray, no longer observe the church's rules (especially as
these pertain to sex and marriage) and view your own faith practice as either a naiveté or a hypocrisy. You have argued with them, fought with them, and tried in
every way to convince them, but to no avail. Eventually you arrive at the unhappy truce you live today: you practice and they don't. One of the deepest bonds
of all between you has been broken. Moreover, you worry about them, living, at least so it seems, godless lives. What can you do? Obviously you can continue
to pray and live out your own life according to your own convictions, hoping to challenge them with your life more than with your words. But you can do more.
You can continue to love and forgive them and, insofar as they receive that love and forgiveness from you, they are receiving love and forgiveness from God.
You are part of the Body of Christ and they are touching you. Within the incredibly mystery of the incarnation, you are doing what Jesus asks of us when he says:
"Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven." And "whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; whose sins you
retain, they are retained.
If you are a member of the Body of Christ, when you forgive someone, he or she is forgiven, if you hold someone in love, he or she is held to the Body of Christ. Hell is possible only when one has put oneself totally out of the range of love and forgiveness, human love and forgiveness, when one has rendered oneself incapable of being loved and forgiven in that he or she has actively rejected not so much explicit religious and moral teaching and practice as the love of sincere humanity.
If a child or a brother or a sister or a loved one of yours strays from the church in terms of faith practice and morality, as long as you continue to love
that person, and hold him or her in union and forgiveness, he or she is touching the hem of the garment, is held to the Body of Christ, and is forgiven by God,
irrespective of his or her official external relationship to the church and Christian morality. Your touch is Christ's touch. When you love someone, unless that
someone actively rejects your love and forgiveness, she or he is sustained in salvation. And this is true even beyond death. If someone close to you dies in a
state which, externally at least, has her or him at odds ecclesially and morally with the visible church, your love and forgiveness will continue to bind that
person to the Body of Christ and continue to forgive that individual, even after death.
In the incarnation, God takes on human flesh in Jesus, in the Eucharist, and in all who are sincere in faith. The incredible graciousness, power and mercy that came into our world in Jesus is still, at least potentially so, in our world in us, the Body of Christ. What Jesus did we too can do; in fact, that is precisely what we are asked to do".
The Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser (chapter 5, Consequences of the incarnation for spirituality).
Every effort we make to care for each other,
to sustain and help each other along the way;
every wrong we bear patiently,
every time we show kindness and patience to one another,
we are helping the Spirit of the Lord bring peace and unity on earth.
Are we true believers? Then every morning is the possibility of Pentecost...