Aren't today's readings such a confirmation of what we've been hearing from Pope Francis lately?
I love thinking about the connection between welcoming all, showing no partiality to rich or poor, and simultaneously being opened to Christ's healing power like in today's Gospel. I feel as if this is a connection that keeps coming to us from Pope Francis. He is desperately wanting us to understand that we are being called to extend mercy and welcome to everyone: the poor, the marginalized, those who disagree with us, those who we think we have nothing in common. He wants us to welcome them into our Church, call them back to Christ, extend them our small mercies of acceptance so that they will be opened to experiencing the life changing mercy of Christ.
Of course, it's easy for me to see what's blocking someone else from the Church. I can quickly identify what's making it impossible for someone to accept Church teaching and God's love. But it takes me a painfully long time to acknowledge my own blockages. And yet, as we are welcoming others to the Church and God's love, we ourselves need to remember that we need to be asking Christ to open and heal our own hearts. We all live with certain blockages towards certain things, or have been hurt and need that deep, lasting healing only Christ can give.
And again, this is the heart of what Pope Francis has been preaching. We as a Church need to recognize the imperative to welcome everyone into our Church so that they may receive the wonders of Christ's mercy, while at the very same time recognizing our own poorness of spirit, our own damaged souls that seek a home in God's love. We need to be both welcoming to others and opened by Christ's healing ourselves. We need to be mindful of how we're treating those around us while at the same time giving attention to our own prayer lives. The two go hand-in-hand and are both answered in Christ's constant and generous mercy.
Are there areas of our life that need to be opened to Christ? Who in my life needs to be welcomed with mercy?
Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.