Makes it Cool to Love Jesus Again
We have a Pope who after only a year in office is making people ask such heretofore unheard of questions that its cool to love Jesus again. Not that we didn't always love him, but lots of us didn't wholly understand him. Now, even John Stewart loves him through this Pope. He is making catholic more christian again and people want it. He's not a remote dogmatist with a knuckle slapping ruler on a narrow set of doctrines. He's a hugger. Kids want to jump in his car with him.
This Pope's emphasis is where Jesus' emphasis was-on the Poor, the Marginalized, the Despised, the outcast, the lost, the lonely, the strangers. He is a Matthew 25 pope. This is the acceptable year of the Lord where Isaiah's teaching found in the mouth of Jesus is mirrored in the works of Francis.
He has championed immigrants of the destitute variety, he has visited prisoners, given out gospels to thousands like a tract peddling missionary, washed women's feet, and embraced modern day leper equivalents like his namesake, cleaned house at the Vatican Bank, sent Blingey Bishops packing and selling their maniors, and has clergy wondering if they really should be fleecing the sheep. The Vicar of Christ looks more like the walking talking heart of Christ than anything anyone recalls seeing in a long time in that form.
One Cardinal said- he has freed the church from its bourgeois roots. [Because that was boring and missed the point]
Jesus didn't come to protect your assets, get you in a five bedroom in the suburbs with a butler and a lawn maintenance contract, or develop your portfolio-or build you a second home at the beach, a manior in provence, or set your retirement- he came to heal the sick, preach good news to the poor, free the oppressed and deliver from sin to eternal life everyone who believes in him, rich or poor. You don't rank more if you have an honorific title, a snotty demeanor, or if you wear designer duds to church banquets any more than the guy sitting next to him on the bus on his commute off the evening shift. There are no luggage racks on hearses.
Jesus is more than your financial planner- He is your best friend, your savior, your mentor, your father, your hope. Your inheritance is in Christ-forever in a beautiful place- eternal life to a place where there is no weeping or disease, no envy, capitalist competition, or striving. Pure Joy for those who love the Lord and walk according to his purposes. The guy with sores on his feet, sitting with no shoes on outside the city gate waiting for the rich passers by to toss crumbs at him may get to heaven before you do unless you notice that guy and try to help. We are reminded of the impassible chasm between rich and poor by the Feather Ruffler in Chief who wants us to notice Lazarus at the gate.
Love your enemies- even when they trash talk, persecute and demean and demoralize you while scamming you. Love them all- because you can't die now. Don't fear anyone who can do anything to your body- your soul is
in Christ secured if you get with the real program, not the fake one embroidered in dogmatic finery. So now start valuing everyone you looked down on before- everyone who insulted you, everyone whom you thought deserved your haughty rebuke, everyone who smells like sheep. Love the least of these, my brethren.
Most of all those who didn't deserve your love- because you don't deserve God's either but he loves you anyway. He loves the dirt poor as much as the petit bourgeois et grand bourgeois- all of whom he created and formed in his own likeness.
This is a Pope who makes people happy to be catholic and want to talk about Jesus. He's less a Pope of wealthy suburbs and more barios and ghettos. He goes where the suffering is- not the places of pampered egoism. I love this Pope.
Tomorrow, Tuesday night, you can hear pre-eminent Pope watcher and religious news commentator Jesuit Father Tom Reese who will speak at Holy Trinity, Georgetown at 7:00 pm on Pope Francis- a year after the white smoke put him in his simple white cassock and crumpled brown shoes.