One of my most cherished beliefs is that changing hearts and minds comes from personal interaction, modeling appropriate behavior, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and the courage to love and sacrifice for others which includes telling someone the truth about their actions. I am one who definitely believes the sin is different than the sinner. All of this stems from my faith and submission to Jesus Christ my Saviour and God who gave Himself willingly as a sacrifice for us, who loves us enough to forgive us when we are truly sorry, and who continues to strengthen us with the gift of Himself in the Eucharist.
We as the Body of Christ do not do enough to change hearts and minds by living our faith. This Year Of Evangelization is crucial in taking steps to live your faith. We talk a good game of personal responsibility but we do not look inside ourselves and view our own lives through as harsh a lens as we view others’ lives. We pick and choose what we want to believe about ourselves, about issues, about our faith, and then insist we are right and all others are wrong often without any real insight into ourselves, other’s faith, “political” issues. We have zero respect for authority figures – from our President to teachers to neighbors to parents. And we justify our disrespect with reasons that protect our fragile beliefs and egos. The amount of disrespect and egoism is present in our lack of civil discussions in both the public and the private sphere. We demonize and hate and bully and hurt all to justify ourselves.
In the work Cary and I do we interact with people on a case-by-case basis. We see pain and suffering and selfishness and a lack of compassion quite often. Part of our job is turning people to the light to see situations for their complexity, to see how we as a human race need and depend on one another, to know and understand intrinsically that what you give to others is more important than what you get. But in those case-by-case situations, you stop making loud pronouncements, you see nuance, you understand sin a bit better, and why forgiveness and mercy are so important. You start to feel the pain Christ felt at every blow He took for our sins. Life is hard….it comes with hard choices, temptations, injustice, sacrifice, and more. How we live through all these things will not be perfect. But that is why we need others to help us through.
I see constantly that condemning someone who is going to make a bad decision or who has made a bad decision gets me nowhere. Sometimes we have to be there to pick up the pieces. Sometimes, people just need to hear different options. Sometimes they need someone who loves them and tells them why their decision will hurt them…in love, with compassion, and without judgment. Sometimes people are scared, threatened, overcome with pride, need fulfillment they are seeking in the wrong place. And we have to watch them go down the road.
But people have free will. Moving people to better moral truths requires them to see you strive to live your life as you speak. It requires that you model good behavior so that others can see the benefits. It requires that you be there when they are sorry and need comfort. It is the only way, my friends. So as we live this Year of Faith of Evangelization- open yourself to living out your faith in love, through Him, with Him, and in Him with the Holy Spirit in Honor of God the Father Almighty – so that there is much less of you and much more of Him.