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Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

There are some religious groups whose policy it is to shun and ignore those who don’t live according to their standards. They will even punish members of their own parish who used to be their close friends by barring them from services and treating them as if they don’t know them. They seem to feel that this is the best way to win them back to the fold. And they can find passages in the Bible that will agree with them. Even St. Paul seems to have suggested such methods. The Catholic Church used them from time to time down through the centuries, with excommunication being the greatest threat to the biggest offenders.

I doubt if excommunication moves many people these days to change and conform to the rules, whether they be God’s rules or manmade church rules. I wonder if it ever did. It seems to me that treating people cruelly usually has the opposite result; it can make them more solid in their opinions and beliefs. Jesus tells us to “go after the lost sheep.” It’s hard to see how treating anyone roughly and unkindly is going to bring them to Christ. As we’ve all heard, “a spoonful of honey catches more flies than a truckload of vinegar.”

You are one who is greatly needed to go after the lost sheep. Especially these days with the shortage of priests and nuns, the lay people of the Church are needed to reach those they live with, work with, recreate with. Where you go you meet people who no priest ever lays eyes on. To Christ they are the “lost sheep,” whether they have ever belonged to a church or not. Everyone is loved by God and desired by him to join him in heaven. Some might not do that except for you.

By being your good ole self and showing people God’s love you can perhaps perform wonders. Won’t your entrance into heaven be much more grand if you have a few of those sheep tagging along with you?

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