A Breath of Fresh Air
I’ve been reading that a number of conservative Catholics are having a hard time with Pope Francis. Many of his off-the-cuff remarks about everything from atheists to abortion to homosexuals to celibacy to those most vulnerable to power are making some very nervous. I think what is happening is that Pope Francis is drawing a distinction between orthodoxy, which is mainly concerned about dogma, doctrine, religious law and control – and orthopraxy which is mainly focused upon living the Christ-like life based on love, compassion and advocacy for social justice. In other words, Pope Francis is outwardly and publicly resembling Jesus more than his predecessors, and his focus is the Jesus we meet in the gospels.
One thing that a life based on love does is blur the rigid lines that are often drawn by dogma, doctrines and strict religious law. That’s exactly what Jesus did to the consternation of the religious and political conservatives of his day. He touched lepers, violated sacred Sabbath laws, affirmed women, Gentiles and children, and chastised the rich elites. Jesus made the elites of the political, economic, and religious realms very nervous. Of course, the elite powers tried to get rid of him and thought they had. But down through the centuries he has kept rising up from the dead in the lives of courageous saints who continue to risk living his life and, as a result, the elite powers are made nervous and are threatened all over again.
It just could be the living Jesus is being manifested in this new Pope. Imagine that! I am not a Catholic and, in a sense, don’t have a stake in the game, but then again I do as I am a Christian who follows Jesus before anything. For me, I am cheering this new Pope on as he is a breath of fresh, Jesus-like air. However, we must remember that the gospels reveal that the elite powers were so threatened by Jesus they plotted to destroy him. (Mark 3:6, 11:18) It goes with the territory of living and loving like Jesus. But, I am sure the Pope, like Jesus, knows the risks of love only too well.