This past week, at a daily Mass, Pope Francis shared some wonderful thoughts that I thought would be good to share here on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. He said, “I remember once, coming out of the city of Salta, on the patronal feast, there was a humble lady who asked for a priest’s blessing. The priest said, ‘All right, but you were at the Mass’ and explained the whole theology of blessing in the church. ‘Ah, thank you father, yes father,’ said the woman. When the priest had gone, the woman turned to another priest: ‘Give me your blessing!’ All these words [of the first priest] did not register with her, because she had another necessity: the need to be touched by the Lord. That is the faith that we always look for, this is the faith that brings the Holy Spirit. We must facilitate it, make it grow, help it grow.”
The question he raised is do we as Church, as pastors, as priests, and as the faithful help other people’s faith to grow?
The Pope also mentioned the story of the blind man of Jericho, who was rebuked by the disciples because he cried to the Lord, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The Pope said, “The Gospel says that they didn’t want him to shout, they wanted him not to shout but he wanted to shout more, why? Because he had faith in Jesus! The Holy Spirit had put faith in his heart. And they said, ‘No, you cannot do this! You don’t shout to the Lord. Protocol does not allow it.’”
This weekend past, someone mentioned that after my homily she wanted to stand up and give out an “Amen” and applause. Over the particular quality or delivery of the homily? No, I think because she was moved by the Spirit… but our “protocol” does not allow such things in the church – just not done in the Catholic Church, don’t you know?
Maybe it is that we try to control the Holy Spirit – or as the Pope remarked, “try and take possession of the Lord.” It can become very dangerous if we try to overly bind the Sacraments in rules that blind us to the movements of the Spirit in a person. The Pope remarked: “Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: ‘I want my child baptized.’ And then this Christian, this Christian says: ‘No, you cannot because you’re not married!’ But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it [that she faces]? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors!’”
As Christians we have a choice: we can be “the controllers of faith, or the facilitators of the faith of the people…[or] We think today of Jesus, who always wants us all to be closer to Him, we think of the Holy People of God, a simple people, who want to get closer to Jesus, and we think of so many Christians of goodwill who are wrong and that instead of opening a door they close the door of goodwill … So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the Church find the doors open, find the doors open, open to meet this love of Jesus. We ask this grace.”