Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis: What would Jesus do?

Mount Moran at Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Fuji X-E1, 55-200mm, circular polarizer
America has "Pope fever."

Pope Francis -- the "people's pope -- is doing his level best to set his church, other churches and politicians across the world on fire with simple messages designed to hit home, not some etheral place where the messages will be neatly filed and ignored.

But what the pope is doing isn't really rocket science.  It's about bringing is back to where we should have been before religion got in the way of faith.

Pope Francis is definitely pro-life but he has called for outreach to and forgiveness of women who have had abortions.  He supports traditional marriage but refuses to judge gays.  He wants churches to be hospitals for sinners, bloody from being in the streets working with the poor and underprivileged.  Francis shuns excess and blasts those who embrace it while calling us to be good stewards of the earth and its resources.

None of this is really particularly radical theology.  It's pastoral.  It's real. It reaches the gut level.  It's the epitome of "what would Jesus do?"

Perhaps that's why Pope Francis is so popular.  He's walking the walk.  And he wants us to join him.  He's telling pastors to stop sending letters to the Corinthians and instead tell it like it is to the people at home.  And while some Catholics comfortable with orthodoxy are reluctant to embrace him Pope Francis is a rock-star for many non-Catholics and even non-Christians.


Maybe it's because he is filling a need we are so hungry for -- spiritual guidance plus encouragement that we who are not perfect people are nonetheless loved and capable of good.  Maybe it's because of the shallow emptiness of our political, business and social leaders.  Maybe, just maybe, it's because he's doing what Jesus would do if he was here today -- consort with, encourage and forgive sinners and the marginalized.  For non-Catholics -- for whom Francis calls their leaders "brother bishops" -- it's a sign of what they wish their churches would be.