Every once in awhile, I hear or read something that startles me because I never thought of it before or it never occurred to me to see in a different light. That happened recently when I read Pope Francis’ remark about gossip.
He said, “Gossip is the terrorism of the Christian community.” Those are strong words, which indicate how deeply he feels about the subject.
In the current atmosphere of immigrant discrimination, churches are being called Sanctuary sites – places where people are safe.
What the Pope suggests is that our churches should also be sanctuaries from gossip, back-biting, criticism, tale-telling, unkindness, and grudges. It is supposed to be a place where the presence of Christ is not just in the tabernacle, but also in the people — a place where people are safe.
The more I think about this, the more my conscience stings. This behavior is practically a national pastime. The idea that the church is a place of safety in this regard is very likely unheard of anywhere. Is it a sign that our complacency with our Christianity is unfounded?
Do we reflect Jesus? Jesus confounded all the religious authorities by talking to, touching, loving, and healing everyone without discrimination. When he was rejected, he simply moved on. He did not waste time in regrets or stewing over slights, but looked forward and continued his mission. He was commissioned to bring to the world the truth about God. God is ever-loving, ever patient, ever forgiving. That was his all-consuming passion. Shouldn’t it be ours as well?
The earliest Christian communities, beset on all sides by enemies, came together in the pure joy of sharing their love of Jesus. So what happened? Why isn’t there one Christian Community instead of thousands? Perhaps we need to start over.
Perhaps we need to model our church community on that of the earliest believers. They thought he was coming back, but we know He has not left us, which means He is present!
How would we behave if Jesus were visible? There would be no question about our church being a safe place. As it is God’s will that all the good that is done, must be done by us, we have little choice but to try to make that dream come true.