Your response was absolutely beautiful. I agree with all that you said, especially with: “Pope Francis is modeling himself on the actions of Jesus and reaching out to the sinners, inviting them to meet Jesus, the only One who can convert hardened hearts.”
For the benefit of livius and jboot, this is in response to my post #27.
Of course the comments posted by some to this thread, and others, parallel the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
In Luke 15, we read "Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing." Note how our Lord makes him the "older" brother ; - ) He asks the servants what's going on and they tell him Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound. You can imagine his thoughts: his younger brother took his inheritance and left home, then blew it on a prolifigate lifestyle while he, the older one, stayed on to work and care for their father. He reacts: "He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him." In what seems like justifiable wrath, he explains: He said to his father in reply, Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. (In biblical times, people would often keep at least one piece of livestock that was fed a special diet to fatten it up, thus making it more flavorful when prepared as a meal. Slaughtering this livestock was to be done on rare and special occasions. Thus when the prodigal son returns, the father "kills the fatted calf" to show that the celebration is out of the ordinary.)
Does this not reflect the emotions shown by some freepers? But, how does the father reply? My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.' Each time I hear this Gospel read, those words bore deep into my heart. And his father continues: "But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.
For the benefit of all, the key to this Gospel is the repentance of the younger son. THAT is what Pope Francis is hoping to accomplish. We who have held fast to the truth need to encourage those who have strayed to return. Fr. Dwight Longenecker in his posting, tackles the issues, succinctly. Reflecting on those who were poorly catechized, He writes:
Suddenly they didnt know that they needed a saviorsomeone who supernaturally forgave them of their sins because they didnt know that they were sinners because we didnt tell them what sin was.
The preacher who points out sin is not a bad guyhes a good guylike the doctor who gives the bad news that what you thought was heartburn is actually cancer and you need surgery and quick. If he just pats you on the head and smiles and gives you an aspirin he may be a nice guy, but hes not a good doctor.
Heres the big question: How do we begin to tell people about sin and the need for the Divine Mercy? As the Pope has pointed out in todays interview just telling people they are sinners in an arbitrary way doesnt make sense. They dont know why what they are doing is wrong. Just saying that its wrong because the Bible says so doesnt work. They dont believe the Bible. Just saying its wrong because I am an authority figure and I say its wrong doesnt work because they do not accept my authority.
Those who are miserable and despairing must see that we are radiant and abundantly happy. Those who are lost in the darkness of their selfishness and sin must see that Christians have hope, have meaning and most of all have love for one another and for them.
We can approach life's storms and battles with joy and hope because of our love Christ and His love for us. Isn't this worth sharing?!