In the 27th chapter of the rule Saint Benedict wrote for his monks, he writes about the need for the Abbot to care for the weakest. He wrote:
“They (Church leaders) are to imitate the loving example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep in the mountains and went in search of the one sheep that had strayed. So great was Jesus’ compassion for its weakness that “he mercifully put it on his shoulders” and carried it back to the flock (Luke 15:5).”
The Christian life is for human beings. Those who exercise authority in the Christian community are to see themselves as healers and shepherds tending the weak and carrying the lost, not as drill sergeants or impresarios. What we have in parishes and families are just people, people who never meet their own ideals, and sometimes abandon them completely.
Our role is simply to try to smooth what hurts them, and lift what burdens them. The spiritual life is a process, not an event.
When asked what monks do in the monastery one monk answered: “We fall and get up, we fall and get up, we fall and get up.” The spiritual life takes time. It takes patience, just like everything else.
Pope Francis wants the Church to be a MASH unit – present in the midst of the action and ready to provide the healing and care for the wounded, the forgotten, and the lost. That is what our parish mission statement means: “Saint Matthew’s exists in the world as a visible expression of God’s love.”
Father Steve Adrian