God calls us not to settle for mediocrity.
Fr. Steve began his homily by giving an update on the capital campaign. In summary, we have reached the monetary target we set through pledges and so now we continue with the process. The process includes submitting our proposals to the parish and to the diocese. The only significant task that remains is making good those pledges that many have made, in order to provide the funds to go forward with the work on the sanctuary and at the school.
This week in the readings we hear about hypocrisy and authority. The Pharisees teach the right thing but don’t live it. In a similar way Pope Francis talks about “airport bishops”, criticizing ambitious men who seek status in the Church rather than leading by example. Jesus says the greatest must be the servant of all. We should pray for all priests that they don’t just lay heavy burdens on people without lifting a finger to help them.
The pope says that priests must “bear the smell of the people.” They must proclaim the truth clearly and be among the people. All priests have authority, which comes from the bishop, to preach the message that can set us free from sin and death. Fr. Steve urges us to call him and his brother priests to account for their actions, because they will be judged on whether they have preached the truth and lived it.
The first reading from the prophet Malachi proclaims this message to priests, “If you do not listen… and give glory to my name, then I will send a curse upon you. And of your blessing I will make a curse.”
There are some priests, says Fr. Steve, who try to be “nice” and try not to hurt people’s feelings. In these times we have somehow assimilated the lie that if we try to call people on to something better they won’t come. But, as CS Lewis says, God is not “nice.” We don’t serve a tame God who does our bidding. He is a God who wants to call us on to wholeness and love, not to have us settle for mediocrity.
We are in a time when some Church leaders are asking whether we should soften the message of the gospel for people. Some cardinals want to do that in the name of “accompaniment”. But true accompaniment is not softening the message, but instead saying, as Jesus did to the woman caught in adultery, “I do not condemn you either. Go and sin no more.”
The Lord is merciful when we acknowledge our sin, not when we justify it.