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"Don't let the sins of those around you keep you from the Family of God!"
These words hung in the air during Mass this past weekend long after our parish priest had uttered them. I had been privileged to be part of a core team for a Sacred Heart of Jesus retreat which had taken place this past weekend, and his statement had been a response to many of the talks given at the retreat that he had supported through his presence.
His take-away from these talks struck a chord in me as well. Sadly, I have met many people who have shied away from the Catholic Church due to the hypocrisy that they had encountered in some form or another. I would imagine that you can relate well to this. Knowing a Catholic who speaks one way yet walks a walk that differs substantially from his/her claims can truly cause injury to others and can cause serious distrust towards the general Catholic population.
One would think that with all of the therapy that is offered for our culture's issues and the concepts of "enlightenment" towards relativism and "loving all without judgement," people would be slower to generalize and hold entire populations accountable for the actions of one person. Incredibly, however, these same concepts have actually pushed the envelope in regards to generalization, putting many souls at risk and robbing them of joy and a faith-filled life.
The sins of hypocrisy are not the only players in the devil's game, though. He is an expert at using the sins of our parents, spouses, children, teachers and priests to blind us and keep us from seeking out the Family of God. These sins often have no hypocritical value whatsoever, but the pain and the disillusionment that they inflict and create can cause such brokenness that we might feel incapable of making such a commitment in our lives. The affects of these sins can convince us that we are not worthy of joining God's family. They may persuade us to believe that idea of the "Family" of God is actually a detriment - perhaps even a threat - to our present lifestyle, and would only cause more harm and discomfort.
Are there times that you wish you could bring someone like this before God Himself so that He can wash away the lies and illuminate the truth? It can be so difficult to watch those around us choose to miss out on so much joy and peace.
When you encounter those that struggle under the weight of the Devil's hand, try to remember that, despite their resistance, they are God's children. Never stop praying for them. Be LOVE to them. Satan loses power when he is faced with love. When the occasion arises, be ready to share something of Christ with them, whether it be a scripture verse, an invitation to a retreat or church event, or even a kind word or hug. ANY loving action can bring them one step closer to their acceptance as a brother or sister to you in Christ. Each step can make all of the difference.
We were all created to be a part of the Family of God. Let us never doubt our inheritance, nor be afraid to share it with any of our lost brothers and sisters. In the end, what an amazing time will be waiting for all of us as we share our home together for eternity!
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