Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday after Forst Sunday of Lent

Today's blog posting come somewhat late, I realize.  Most of my day has been busy trying to clear my desk.  It is the kind of project I reserve for a day when I need to do some serious inner searching or reflecting.  Today was one such moment in my life.

Quite early this morning I was reviewing the news on the computer version of today's WASHINGTON POST.  My eyes were drawn to what I found to be a painful account of an event that lacked so much compassion and consequently so much hurt and pain. 

At a recent funeral a priest (age does not matter but sensitivity does) denied the Body of Christ to a woman whose mother lay in her coffin, just a few few from where they stood.  The priest, according to published reports told the woman she was living in sin because she had lived with another woman for twenty plus years.  The words of the priest were not missed by those kneeling close by.

I recall that the Pharisees and scribes often challenged Jesus because he ate with sinners.  I recall that Jesus offered the woman at the well a cup of water.

No doubt the priest had been taught or, if not, had come to the conclusion, that it was his right or privilege perhaps duty to publicly humiliate a person with whom he had never discussed her particular situation.  I was taught that the place for a priest to be making a judgement about another person's moral actions was within the confines of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or in private consultation.  Was this priest ever taught the reality of compassion in such a circumstance?  In my almost 40 years of priesthood, I have never been able to determine communicant's inner state of soul.  There have been times when there might have been suspicion but the priest who taught morality and canon law instilled in my heart and mind the importance of compassion.

During these days of the Lenten season, perhaps we might take a moment to examine our own consciences to understand how judgemental we may have been either on special moments or in ways that we might not have recognized the sin or rash judgement.

I encourage you to pray for the priest, of course.  Likewise I pray for the woman and her family who do not look upon this event as a time to bash Catholicism and the priesthood.  Pray, too, that the priest might have the fortune now to have either his superior or his spiritual director to have a genuine father-son conversation.  What would Jesus have done?  I suspect he would have acted no differently than when he was dining or meeting with sinners! 

Judgement and the law vs Compassion and the spirit of law!