“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds….
And our wounds, of course, are the consequences of sin: our own sin, or, heartbreakingly, the sins of others. Christ came to heal those wounds, and he wants to use his body, the Church, to do that.
Now, here’s the thing. I can look at someone, someone I know something about, and say, “Gosh, he has a problem. He needs to fix that. Right now.” And maybe he does: but from where I sit, I don’t know whether I’m seeing high cholesterol or a sucking chest wound. And I don’t know what wounds the person has that I can’t even see.
But Christ sees. And given access, he’ll heal those wounds, and he’ll do the job in priority order, as he sees the priorities.
I know in my life (I may not be representative), Christ seems to deal with one issue at a time. I expect that I’m as sinful as the next guy, but Christ doesn’t seem to bury me under the weight of all my unexamined and unrepented sins all at once. He picks one, or two, and works with me on that. Right now, it seems to be my temper, and keeping my mouth shut when I’d rather give my tongue free rein. There have been others in the past, and will no doubt be others in the future: but I don’t know what those are. Christ, in his mercy, isn’t banging on me about those.
Pope Francis is asking us to extend that mercy to our opponents in the culture wars. Christ loves them. He wants to heal them, too. He’ll give the job as much time as it takes for each individual, and it’s a job that will take the rest of each patient’s life. But they need to come see him and ask him for help.
This is hard for us Catholic bloggers. Good warriors in the Culture Wars, we strive to uphold the truth and defeat falsehood (sometimes too stridently). We so often have a passionate desire to share the truth with the world. If only they could see! But for that, Francis tells us, we need to share the Truth, the Truth Himself, Christ our Lord. It’s His face they need to see.