I never thought a Roman Catholic Argentinian Jesuit could capture my attention, but Pope Francis has me listening to his every word. I am becoming a Roman Catholic junkie. I follow Francis on Twitter and read his Papal statements. I am not Catholic – but I suspect I am not alone at how intrigued I am that so many are listening to his voice.
The magic of Francis is that he is calling a church back to itself. He is asking Catholics to remember from where they came. The Christian gospel is the story of the orphan and the widow, the sick and the wounded, the lost and the hopeless – and the message is that Jesus was sent by God to find, heal, and live as one of those he served. Followers of Jesus are asked to live the same, and Francis is showing the world how this is done.
The only thing that would help Francis is if the Jeep was used, had some mud, and a sticker was on the rear bumper saying Get in, Shut up, and Hang on.
A person molded by both the Spirit and the Bible, it would undoubtedly be impossible for a man like the Pope to refer to one experience or verse that shapes his faith and the actions it inspires. Francis’ is a life of many moments. And even though I know extremely little about him, I can say what he makes me think of as I watch his witness.
The story he reminds me of is the prodigal son in Luke 15. Francis is a father calling his church home. It’s lost. From questionable finances to demonic violence against children, Francis’ church left home and squandered itself with distractions, unrighteousness, and in some cases, evil. Nevertheless, staying true to the gospel message, when a person is lost God sends a messenger to return one to the way. The Pope is one like this – if the church will listen.
Personally, I am. In my own church, we have our distractions too. Even now, we argue about issues and some are preparing to split the church should beliefs and language change – as if schism again is the answer. I have never been much for these discussions. I suppose it is because the holiest moments I know are just from a different place.
When I get a hug from an orphan in Guatemala, theology becomes a distant second.
When I work to get water wells dug in the desert for Syrian refugees distractions go away.
When I help a kid with kidney failure get a dialysis machine it changes my course as much as hers or his.
Francis is showing a strayed church a way home.
Perhaps we all should listen.
(thanks for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)