Today we hear from St Augustine in A Year with the Church Fathers. He tells us how important it is to be right about moral issues, while it’s OK to be wrong in whether a certain person is good or bad.
This is great advice. When in any doubt, we should always err on the side of affirming and loving our neighbor. We should assume that they are good, and hope and pray that they ARE good even if there is reason to think they may not be. Just as we always think highly of ourselves, and want the best for ourselves, we should also think highly of other people and want the best for them. That’s what “loving others as we love ourselves” means.
My favorite preacher, Bishop Robert Barron, often points out that it is so important for us to keep the standard set very high… the moral expectation is for perfection, so even small sins need to be addressed and corrected. BUT, he says, it’s also extremely important that we extend a very high amount of grace and mercy to people who sin. Do we lower the expectation? No, it remains the expectation of perfection. We are called to be saints. But when we sin, which we do every day, we have to accept the grace and mercy and forgiveness from God… and we need to be extending that same grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone else.
High moral standards… tons of mercy and grace. That’s a combination St Augustine would agree with.
Thank You, God, for loving us while we’re sinners… but not leaving us that way.