Friday, March 15, 2013

A New Thing

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Pope's resignation.  Even though I'm not Catholic, don't really understand the whole Pope thing, and it has no bearing on my actual life...I had a holy moment watching his final few minutes.  This week, the Catholic church elected a new Pope.  I'm still not Catholic.  I still don't really understand the whole Pope thing.  It still has no bearing on my actual life.  Yet I find myself inspired.

It's another holy moment.

I was too young (and too heathen) to have any honest impression of John Paul II.  Benedict was quiet and, to be honest, I just wasn't impressed with him.  But I already like Francis.

Francis is, I think, the way Jesus would have done it.  I mean, he lives a quiet life.  An honorable life.  You know that one of the first things he did after becoming Pope...was to go back to the hotel he'd checked into when he arrived for the conclave, pick up his bags, and pay his own tab for the rented room.  We have all heard the stories of his time in Argentina, taking public transportation to meet the people.  There is no sense of entitlement in this guy, and I love that about him.  In a world where it seems everyone thinks they are worth more and more or deserve more and more or that we owe them something, Pope Francis is an honestly humble man, looking to serve more and love more and do more for God.

I think that's the way to do it.

When he walked out on the balcony for the first time, I laughed out loud at the look of stupor on his face.  "I'm the Pope.  I'm...the Pope?  This is weird."  You could see him thinking that.  You could see him at the same time overwhelmed by the honor of the highest calling of his order to serve God...and also burdened by the throngs of people already gathered in St. Peter's Square, cheering a man they'd met only two seconds ago.  You could see the humility, confusion, and unworthiness cross his face as his eyes kind of went fogged and you just got this sense that he didn't think this moment was about him at all.  He was taking it in just like everyone else was and while we'd think it should have meant the most to him, you got the sense watching that he was kind of a spectator, too.  That he was waiting with the same anticipation to get a glimpse of the new Pope.  That it hadn't really sunk in yet, and maybe didn't even much matter, that it happened to be him.

I think that's the way to do it.

He is a man with one lung, having faced a serious illness, which means he stands before the world as an example of God's healing.  He stands before us as a testament to what God's strength can do in weakness.  Testifying to what wholeness can be through brokenness.  Declaring the goodness of the Lord who heals, who strengthens, and who carries and at the same time, showing a new faith from mankind because where else in the world are you going to pick the cripple (for lack of a better word) to be the big cheese (also for lack of a better word)?  Where else are you going to pick the guy with one lung and ask him to be the spokesman?  It's not going to happen.

I think it's so cool that it has.

But here's the thing I love maybe the most - Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Francis.  And when they said that, I waited with everyone else to hear: Francis the what?  Benedict the Sixteenth.  John Paul the Second.  I was waiting on Francis the what.  Then they said it:

Francis the First.

I didn't believe them at first.  I thought someone had missed on their fact-checking.  There has never been a Francis?  Not one?  In more than two thousand years of church history, no Pope has ever taken the name Francis?

I love it.  I love it because it says that more than two thousand years later, God can (and is) still do a new thing.  There is more to be discovered, more to be lived, more to be loved, more to be praised, more to be honored, more to be given, more to be received from God than we could ever imagine, more even than is in the Book He gave us.  Two thousand years later, God is still doing a new thing.

And I think that's awesome.

So here's this new Pope, and he doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on my life.  But I am inspired nonetheless.  Because Francis reminds us that there is a place in this world for a humble man, a simple man, a quiet man who honors and serves and treasures those around us, who pays his own way and doesn't expect (and won't accept) a handout, who can show healing in sickness, strength in weakness, wholeness in brokenness, who reminds us that God is still doing a new thing...that He is always doing a new thing....and a man who waits just as expectantly as the rest of us for that next big thing God is doing, without suspecting it might be him.

It's kind of everything I'd hope for in my own simple, quiet life.

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