I am sorry for the long silence… I didn’t feel I was inspired to write anything, but perhaps I wasn’t listening hard enough.
Sometimes following doctrinal developments coming out of Rome these days (a personal fascination of mine) can feel like riding a roller coaster of emotion. One minute it seems they will consider changing long-held traditions which are often viewed as exclusionary or outdated, and the next they “clarify” that the Church is NOT changing its views on these matters just the way it communicates about them… perhaps. I think this back and forth underscores some of the many challenges that Pope Francis has inherited and yet it also sheds light into the political and legislative functions of the Roman Catholic Church, whose partial role is to govern the faithful in matters of doctrine. Even if the Pope expresses his desire to move in one direction, he does not simply mandate from on high to churches around the globe. He engages in a more nuanced dialogue with church leaders to hopefully change their hearts to what he feels is the calling of Christ for the Church. And, first and foremost, he models what that calling is. This method can seem very frustrating to our modern sensibilities which demand action now and expect debate to end in capitulation.
My personal feeling is that Pope Francis’ approach more closely mirrors God’s relationship with us. God doesn’t force our hand and demand our obedience. He persuades our hearts. That is the relationship we always find with the Holy, a seduction or allurement as if being pulled into something very good and inviting and wonderful—sometimes called the mysterium fascinosum. Sometimes we resist what God already knows is “good and right” for us. Our flesh (ego) struggles with our spirit to be in control– I know mine does. Our job is to learn to be malleable to the will of God, to have the grace of flexibility and patience with one another. The psalmist reminds us, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95, NIV) I have found that the more I am focused on the LOVE of God, the more my heart remains open and capable of acceptance.
Prayer: Lord, soften my heart to hear your call.