Concern for the Family
All Souls
November 2, 2014
JN 6:37-40

The story goes that before Creation day, God called a meeting of all of the angels in heaven. Once assembled, God announced the intention of creating a being in the Divine image and likeness, gifting these creatures with free will. The angels reacted instantly, and in a very unsupportive way. They pointed out, and rightly so, that one of the Divine attributes was PERFECT JUSTICE! They assumed, and again rightly so, that these creatures would eventually abuse or misuse the gift of free will, and since God is perfectly just, there would be no choice but to destroy the offenders. God certainly could not argue the point.

So, God withdrew to a private place to study the issue. Having come to a conclusive decision, God again assembled the angels and announced the intention of moving forward with the plan. Acknowledging the inevitable abuse or misuse of free will, and the fact that PERFECT JUSTICE would necessitate severe responses to such abuse or misuse, God revealed that the Divine Personality included PERFECT MERCY! God tempered justice with mercy to avoid the dire consequences of gifting creatures with free will. And so God created humankind in the Divine image and likeness, gifting us with free will.

We Roman Catholics have known for quite some time now that the Bishops would be assembled at the Vatican this fall to examine a variety of issues concerning family life. Clearly, the modern family is under siege and is suffering great losses. It is fitting that the Church should turn her attention to the crisis issues with which families are struggling, in hopes of bringing some sort of relief. We were called to pray that the Bishops be inspired by the Holy Spirit so that they might shepherd our Church according to God’s plan.

Due to the complexity of the issues on which the Bishops have focused, the secular press has found the meetings to be most newsworthy. Pope Francis has encouraged transparency in these discussions, so there is no reason for us to feel uneasy with the attention. What could be troublesome, however, is the scope and nature of the reporting. Journalists are framing the issues as socio-political. While the ultimate outcome will have an impact on our culture, the issues are, in truth, entirely theological and spiritual. This has nothing to do with establishing a general consensus. What our Church is about…is straining to hear directions from God as to how we are to live in this era of salvation history.

Front and center is the gift of free will. As they go about their work, the Bishops need to consider what constitutes an abuse or misuse. Moreover, they are faced with the task of determining what justice requires and what mercy demands as humankind employs free will in an increasingly confusing era.

We individual Catholics were asked to weigh in on these very sensitive issues. If we took the invitation seriously and spent any time at all completing the questionnaire that was circulated throughout the universal Church, we have a slightly better appreciation of how difficult the task is that our leaders are faced with. The Bishops were not sent to Rome to do their own will…or the will of the majority…or a determined minority, but rather the will of God. And this is the will of God…that we should not lose anyone…but that we should raise them up into the waiting arms of our Savior.

So, over the next year, we should intensify our prayers in hopes that our Church dispatches the will of God, confident that hope does not disappoint.