This morning I opened my daily news cruise articles and saw something unimaginable only a few short years ago. Gracing the Front Cover of TIME Magazine's person of the year was the new Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
Who in their right mind would have guessed the Catholic Church would ever represent such a significant number of people in popular culture again? After all, the last two decades of sex scandals, questionable financial deals, and a less than laser focus on where the world was spinning, it seemed as though the Catholic Church was headed for a new Dark Ages. And now, out of the ashes of a dimly lit future arises a new hero.
Not being part of the Catholic tradition, I must admit my own ignorance to the doctrines, worship styles, and various nuances that grace any religious tradition. But having several Catholic members of my staff at KIVU over the years, I've learned much about what we have in Common.
To serve the Poor
To stand up for the rights of those who can't speak for themselves
The immutable sound of confession that should grace the hallways of every stable religious tradition
To recognize the grandeur of God as the Creator of all things
To make sure our lives are in line with the teachings of the Bible
These make us more similar than my protestant fathers would like to admit. They tend to feel the need to distance themselves from the Catholic Church, and who could blame them. If you separate yourself from an organization that's been in business for 1500 years, you pretty well need to come up with good reasons why you're not a part of them any more. I get it.
But lately it seems the Catholic Church unable to crawl out of the darkness plaguing their every day existance. Even thought we had much in common, it was hard to take serious a group seemingly endorsing pedophilia, creature comforts in excess, and a hard line theology that doesn't allow for many to identify themselves.
And then came Pope Francis.
The media was unsure how this Argentinian would handle the pressure of being the most visible Christian religious figure in the world. There were many who questioned his ability to manage the vast Catholic Global Empire. And then...he just came and walked like Jesus.
In no way can you say Pope Francis is perfect, but as Jesus pointed out, "A Good Tree Bares Good Fruit, and a Bad Tree Bares Bad Fruit." We will know who those disciples are by the works of their lives to bare good fruit. And Pope Francis Bears Good Fruit.
He blesses anyone regardless of their religious tradition.
He elevates Women as important parts of the church.
He serves the poor in the middle of the night when Roman citizens have reported them seeing Francis dressed in normal priestly attire in opposition to the gawdy Pope uniform.
His message is to care for the poor, just like Jesus.
He refuses the creature comforts afforded to many Popes in the past, foregoing the Pope slippers because they cost too much, insisting he pay for his own hotel and apartment stays, and calling fellow high level priests into line when excess living arrangements take them away from the heart of the church's message.
Again, no man is perfect, and I'm sure Pope Francis has many flaws, but part of being a leader is modeling the message you come to preach. So many people are tired of Christians who just talk about helping the poor. The poor are sick of Christians who come to show empathy one or two days a year at the local food bank. The world is sick of CINO Christians. "Christians in Name Only" We long for people to show us the real hope of the gospel. We need to see people can live this message we hold dear to our hearts.
And today, unexpectedly, we see a visible leader seemingly trying to live the walk Jesus called us to live, elevated to one of the most intriguing honors the world media gives out each year.
Thank you TIME Magazine for not letting secularism get in the way of your decision making.
Thank you Pope Francis for giving us a model of waking like Jesus walked.
Thank you to the God of heaven for beginning to redeem the awful stories of the Catholic Church over the last few decades.
What a crazy time we live in!