The Flexible Heart


Matthew 12:1-14–The Message: “I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual. (6-8).

Jo Jo in our photo has been treated with an inflexible ritual through out her life; she comes from a home were being “male” is the law; she has been abused by her family; the system–because she can not follow their expectations; men and women have abused her. She simply does not fit in.

Growing up I witnessed several aunts and uncles literally kill themselves through alcoholism, and my parents dying from lung cancer as a result of smoking. I literally hate both substances–but I do not, and will not bring my own judgment into the lives of others because of my experience.  My witness is I do not drink or smoke and am happy and satisfied in life.

I witness every day of my life both  men and women of all ages destroying their lives from drugs; and I witness our capitalistic society  being an indirect cause through its lack of providing for the basic needs of individuals.

What Jesus did throughout his ministry was listen–without judgment, and in that listening people heard his message of love and hope. Others heard  him differently and crucified him.

In seminary I was trained in pastoral care to be a listener. My professor said: ‘If you can not listen without loving unconditionally you do not belong in the ministry.” Through experience I have learned we can only listen, and walk with people where they are, without bringing our on judgments on others. 

The overall positive for me–that counters the criticism and judgment of my way of listening–is I relate to people where they are, hear their stories, walk with them as friends, and occasionally, and I mean occasionally see them  find a better way of life. Doing that is not easy–and as my friend said once: “all the trains come at you.,” but believe me there is so much joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, D.S.T., D.Min. Candidate, John Knox Seminary

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