There is a lot about Catholicism that I disagree with, and even more that I don't understand, but I had a holy experience today nonetheless watching Pope Benedict XVI take his last chopper ride out of St. Peter's.
And I learned something, too. I always wondered how they came up with the idea of a Pope. The LIVE! Breaking News coverage informed that it was St. Peter (or just plain Peter, as I call him) who was believed to be the first pope - the first head over the church - and that it is in his honor, memory, tradition, etc. that the Catholics elect a man of God to lead them.
So there's that.
The truth is that I was more listening to the final hours of the papacy than watching it. I was listening to the crowds - the people gathered outside St. Peter's and those gathered in the garden at the Pope's summer retreat, where he will retire until his new apartment is ready in the Vatican. Screaming people. Cheering people. Crying people. Praying people. I was listening to the people respond as the holy man walked his final steps, and I had one profound thought:
I thought about Jesus on His way to the cross. I thought about the people that would have been around Him, a crowd just like this one. Screaming. Cheering. Crying. Praying. A whole gamut of emotions, but the one thing it wouldn't have been was quiet. It was a scene, by all definitions of the word.
I think we forget that. I know I do. I always think about Jesus marching solemnly to Golgotha, crowds looking on but not really saying much. We know the trial was raucous, that people were shouting, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" but I think we fail to consider that things didn't really quiet down after that. It was loud.
From that thought spun this one:
It was always loud around Jesus. Again, I have to admit I had not really considered this possibility. I pictured people gathered on the mount, listening attentively to what the Messiah had to say. Raising their hands to ask questions. I pictured people sitting on a hillside, mumbling to one another while the Teacher divvied up a little boy's lunch. I pictured crowds pressing down the street, the generic noise you might expect in, say, the mall, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Listening to the people cheer, scream, cry, pray, call out, and make noise over the pope, I had this profound experience of what it must have been like to be around Jesus. All that hubbub for a holy man.
I don't know what I think about all that. I'm just thinkin'. It's just fun to think about - what it must have been like to actually be around Him. With Christ. With the crowds. With the noise. It would have been awesome. It would have had to been.