Follow Pope Francis, Follow Jesus

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By Bo Sanchez

Pope Francis has been preaching about God’s extravagant mercy. He proclaimed 2016 as the Year of Mercy. In his book titled The Name of God Is Mercy, he said that mercy is the very essence of God.

Jesus hung out with questionable people. And so does Pope Francis.

When he went to the United States, the Pope called up one of his former students, Yayo Grassi, someone whom he knew has been a practicing homosexual for a long time. The Pope asked Yayo if he could visit him. He said he just wanted to give him a hug. That meeting happened. Yayo brought his partner with him and the Pope received them warmly.

At another time, on this same question, he replied: “Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does He endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.”

By the way, the Pope is not changing doctrines. He still believes that a sexual relationship between the same gender is sin. But I believe he’s asking, “Can we disagree and still be friends?”

What Are You Known For?

A few years ago, someone wrote to me, “Brother Bo, whenever I hear you preach at The Feast, you don’t preach against abortion, homosexuality, and other grievous sins. Especially now that Congress is passing the RH Bill, you need to make a stand.”

I wrote back, “I am Catholic. So I stand by what my Church believes in all these matters. And yes, I’ve taught about these things at different times. But I don’t talk about them every time I open my mouth. Because God gave me a special assignment. My call is to reach out to people who are no longer attending church, who are no longer religious, who don’t find Church relevant in their lives, who feel angry at the Church, who feel uncomfortable in a church, and especially those who feel rejected by the Church.”

I was surprised when Pope Francis was asked the same question. A journalist asked him, “Why don’t you speak against abortion and gay marriage more often?”

He gave a similar answer, but a thousand times better. He said, “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time… The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

The sad fact is, when secular people were surveyed about the Church, they said, “The Church is more known for what it is against rather than what it is for.”

We’re known for being against this, and that, and this, and that. This is not the Forgiving Father. This is the Better Brother, telling the world, “I’m better than you are!”

I want to be the Forgiving Father, not the Better Brother.

If there was one thing that Jesus was against, it was the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. But to the sinners, Jesus was their friend.

He ate with prostitutes, adulterers, tax collectors, and drunkards. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

This Is What Church Is All About

Yes, this is our mission in our community, The Feast, and the Light of Jesus Family. But I believe this is the mission of the entire Catholic Church.

We want to welcome everyone. Pope Francis loves to say,

“I’m a sinner in need of God’s mercy.” He proclaimed a Year of Mercy because like everyone else, he needed it.

Do you need God’s mercy today?

If the answer is yes, get ready.

Because God will do a 100-meter dash towards you and embrace you.

*This excerpt is taken from Join the Feast By Bo Sanchez, available on paperback and e-book copy at www.feastbooks.ph!

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