Forgiving the Church



"When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness. It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer." - Henry Nouwen


"God sent Jesus to make free persons of us. He has chosen compassion as the way to freedom. That is a great deal more radical than you might at first imagine. It means that God wanted to liberate us, not by removing suffering from us, but by sharing it with us. Jesus is God-who-suffers-with-us. Over time, the word sympathizing has become a somewhat feeble way of expressing the reality of “suffering with” someone. Nowadays, when someone says: “I have sympathy for you,” it has a rather distant ring about it. The feeling, at least for me, is of someone looking down from above. The word’s original meaning of “suffering together with someone” has been partly lost. That’s why I’ve opted for the word compassion. It’s warmer, more intimate, and closer. It’s taking part in the suffering of the other, being totally a fellow human being in suffering. . . . Jesus is the revelation of God’s unending, unconditional love for us human beings. Everything that Jesus has done, said, and undergone is meant to show us that the love we most long for is given to us by God, not because we deserved it, but because God is a God of love." - Henry Nouwen

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