What the word Catholic means to me

Hi everybody! It’s been almost three weeks since I last posted. But I hope everyone’s doing well ๐Ÿ™‚

I have one rule for myself when I write, and that is, to only write when I am inspired to, or when I have something on my mind that I feel I should share. This is definitely one of those times. But I feel like what I have to share could help you guys. I know I’ve been calmed and helped by thinking about it.

I’ve seen on the news recently that Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions. I do not know what everyone’s opinion on the whole thing is. But I know that I do not mind that the Pope supports same-sex civil unions. And that’s for one simple reason that is one of my personal core values: It is not my job to judge, or look down on others for what society says is their perceived “sin.” Why should I love anyone any less for any reason? I wouldn’t want people to love me any less for any of my perceived shortcomings when I know I am an unworthy sinner. After all, we’re ALL sinners in need of Jesus’ saving grace.

Plus, unless something has drastically changed in the last few years, marriage has ended in divorce at around a 50% clip among heterosexual couples. That could be for any number of reasons. Infidelity, incompatibility, etc.

Marriage hasn’t been taken all that seriously by heterosexual couples. So to me that means people should be more focused on improving and maintaining their own marriages instead of worrying about what same-sex couples do in their own private lives. It shouldn’t concern anyone.

I think Pope Francis’ support of the LGBTQ community on this matter also shows me part of what it might truly mean to be Catholic. And that has little to do with religion, dogma or any of the things associated with the Catholic faith as we know them.

The word Catholic comes from a Latin word meaning “universal.” I found that term both hopeful and ironic. Ironic in the sense that my view of the Catholic Church is that it is not inclusive of all people at times, even though it should be. And hopeful in the sense that if we truly love our neighbors as Jesus taught us, the Catholic Church can begin to truly live up to its namesake: As a place where ALL God’s children (i.e. all of humanity) can feel the love Jesus has for them. To me, truly being Catholic is living out the word “universal” and trying my best to be accepting and loving toward everyone (even though I obviously routinely fail, as do we all).

Plus, reading Scripture is indeed important, and gaining wisdom from it is important. But I sort of view the uproar over the Pope’s support of same-sex civil unions, and using the verse in Deuteronomy as justification against the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways, to be similar to how Pharisees in Jesus’ time viewed their law versus the true application of it. Let me explain:

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day seemed far more concerned with keeping up appearances as holy and righteous, while not truly being holy and righteous. They looked at the sins of others, and frowned upon them. While not looking at their own sins, and realizing they were just as much, if not more screwed up than the prostitute, tax collector, or drunk they refused to associate with. They failed to keep the deeper, true meaning of their law, which was this: Love God and neighbor. No exceptions. Jesus never looked down on any of the people He spent time with. He loved them so deeply, even while recognizing they were unworthy sinners He came to save.

In a similar way, opponents of the Pope’s stance, at least the ones I have seen on Facebook, seem angry over it because it’s a perceived transgression upon something they view as sacred. While not realizing that the true thing that should be held sacred, is that it’s our job to try our best to love all people without exception. Jesus instituted that command for all of humanity for all time, at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. And I do not agree with those in the Christian community who think opposing the LGBTQ community is loving people.

I will admit it, I used to live by the Christian-sounding saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Sounds good enough, right? I used to think so. Until I read an article unpacking the saying and proving that it wasn’t a Christian way of looking at things at all.

When we live by “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” we do a couple things wrong. First, when we hate the sin or shortcoming of another person, we either consciously or unconsciously start identifying them with what we perceive to be the main sin in our eyes, rather than loving them for the person that they are. Like I’m sure you’ve judged someone as the town gossiper, or someone who eats too much, someone who doesn’t manage their money right, etc. I’m certainly guilty of the same thing. While we should always strive to be the best that we can be in many ways, when we judge someone for the reason or reasons they aren’t perfect, we don’t really practice loving them as Jesus wants us to do. When our judgmental, human side comes out, we can’t be the people Jesus calls us to be.

The second thing we do wrong when we live by “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is more obvious: It isn’t our job to hate someone’s sin. Nope. It isn’t our job to rail against someone’s wrongdoing or shortcoming, especially when we have a TON of our own shortcomings to worry about and try to improve on. There’s only one being anywhere who has the job of judging sin along with the authority to do so, and He’s the one who created all of us ๐Ÿ˜‰

Only God can judge sin. Plus it makes no sense for us to point at and shame others for their sins. That would be like pointing and laughing at someone for being filthy dirty…while we ourselves are also filthy dirty. I obviously do not know the mind of God, but I do know He sees sin differently than we do. From what I know, I do know these things: God is perfect. We are not. And we cannot enter Heaven as we are because we are not perfect. But if we truly claim Jesus’ death on the Cross, try our best to live according to His word, and try to emulate the compassion He showed others while on Earth, we will enter Heaven thanks to His grace.

But while we are here, it is our job to love our neighbor without exception with the spirit that Jesus had while He was physically here on Earth. He loved the downtrodden, the poor, the outcasts of society, the disabled, the prisoners, the physically and emotionally persecuted, and every kind of sinner imaginable. While exposing, shaming and embarrassing those who thought they knew God best. Perhaps if we all lived this way, instead of clinging to dogma, all of humanity could live out the true meaning of the word “Catholic” and be the united body of Jesus on Earth.

God bless and take care everybody! ๐Ÿ™‚

Published by Luke Wickiser

Hi everybody! I'm passionate about many subjects, such as faith, history, politics, and sports. Stay tuned to Luke's Thoughts for updates on all these things!

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