Striving for Deeper Holiness: October 3, 2021


27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends, blessings from Saint Clement's. We continue to travel through Mark's Gospel, and today it's another uplifting and challenging, at the same time, scripture. In the scripture today, we see people coming to Jesus and saying, "Is it lawful to divorce your wife? Is it lawful to divorce your husband? Is it lawful to send somebody away from your life?" Jesus flips that question upside down and Jesus' question is, "Is it loving? Do you do it out of love or do you do it out of selfishness?" That really is the heart of the question.

That question really is connected to my own family story. I remember when I had just started law school back in Poland and I decided that I was called to be a priest. And so I went to interview at the seminary and I met with one of the vice rectors in the seminary who was very kind and welcoming and told him a little bit of my own story and gave him all my paperwork. And part of my story was that my parents were divorced a number of years before I applied to the seminary. And not out of an evil spirit, but just, I think, out of an abundance of understanding he had, he looked at me and he said, "You know, we will welcome you to the seminary and we will allow you to study here and be a priest, but the truth is, I don't know what we'll do with you because it says you never had the experience of a normal family. I don't know how you can serve normal families."

Those words were deeply wounding to me as a candidate and even now as a priest. I was judged based on my family story that quite frankly I had no power over, but also I knew how Jesus was present in the life of my family. Yes, it was true that my parents were divorced, but boy did I see the evidence of the work of Jesus alive in my mom and my dad and their families. None of us were perfect. None of them were perfect. And yet I've seen firsthand how powerfully Jesus was at work in the life of my family even though it might be classified at that time as a different family. That is always an important lesson to me that I hold very dear to my heart, in making sure that all of you, no matter what situation you come from, no matter how you were raised or who is part of your family or who you love, that you know that you are welcomed by God, that Jesus loves you, that he died on the cross for you and he rose from the dead to redeem you to the fullness of love. Jesus calls us constantly to himself on this journey toward him. It's the conversion of our hearts, when we become more and more like him. We pray that we leave our sinful ways behind and we move closer to Jesus as he is, and we can only do it in a community in supporting and praying for one another

Here at Saint Clement, we have such a strong and beautiful community that really is interested, in my own experience, in accompanying one another and being present one another. And so if you're new to Saint Clement, or you've been gone for awhile, or you're just considering rejoining the church again, I pray and hope you give us a try. I pray that all of us here at Saint Clement are people of community that really go out of our way to make each other feel at home here, loved and validated. Jesus is at work in this community and he needs all of us in making a next step in ensuring that we are his face of welcome and embrace to one another. God bless you all!