Over the years. I have sometimes felt pigeonholed or put in a box.
Perhaps there have been times when you have felt someone boxed you into a category – male or female, too old or too young, liberal or conservative. The list of possibilities is long.
Is there anyone among us who has not pigeonholed someone else dressed differently or speaking another language?
In any case, the picture was, to some degree, an incomplete and erroneous view.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of Cardinal Bergoglio, a Jesuit, choosing the name of a beloved Franciscan. For ten years, people have been trying to put him in one slot or another. I have been fascinated by the recent flood of articles trying to make sense of Pope Francis’ ten years as Pope.
In this Mindwalk let’s reflect on how Jesus’ contemporaries tried to make sense of him.. and how similar things might happen to Pope Francis.
Was Jesus a liberal or a conservative?
What is your initial reaction? Do you see him as a radical who challenged the teaching of Moses and the long line of prophets and priests? Or do you see him as the fulfillment of what had been said of the coming Messiah? Both groups put Jesus in a box.
Both tendencies existed 2000 years ago. At the same time I do not think either of these groups, including his closest followers, understood that Jesus not only said love your enemies because, in God’s eyes, they were also sons and daughters loved as only a parent can.
Jesus lived it! Yes, he cared for his Jewish neighbors and especially outcast Jews suffering on the margins. He also cared about those who were his enemies, both inside Judaism and also those who were his enemies. He called everyone to his banquet, even sent for those on the “highways and byways.”
As he hung on the cross, with unprecedented love, Jesus forgave those who inflicted such horrible pain and nailed him to a shameful cross as a criminal. He loved and forgave them! What more dramatic example could he give that would demonstrate how much his father loved everyone – including you and me?
Is Pope Francis a liberal or a conservative?
What is your initial reaction?
It may very well depend on which burning issue you are most interested in.
I have read more than 20 thoughtful articles summing up the Pope Francis decade. Sometimes it is hard to believe they are writing about the same man. Often, people focus only on the issues that are important to them.
It very much reminds me of the situation 50 years ago. The Pope would say something about sexual morality. One side of the aisle rallied round him because he was Pope. They would fiercely chastise the other side of the aisle for questioning the Pope.
But when that same Pope, Paul VI, said something about social justice and caring for those on the margins, the cheerleaders and protesters reversed their responses to the same Pope!.
Making sense of Pope Francis
As I look at Pope Francis, I see him calling all, on both sides of the aisle, to encounter and treat one another as who we are, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. He is calling us to recognize Jesus’ prayer, Our Father, is more radical and inclusive than we think or dare live. He is calling us to recognize that Jesus is neither liberal nor conservative…yet both liberal and conservative. He calls us to love… even our enemies!
I found fascinating one of the remarks from one of the astronauts early in the Space Program after he had returned to earth from his mission. He marveled that from space, even just a few miles up from *terra firma*, there were no boundaries visible, no markers to show one nation from another, nothing that divided any one person from another.
Perhaps, that is that inclusive nature Jesus (and now many popes since) had striven for. “Bridges instead of walls” I think I keep hearing Pope Francis say.
Of all the terms in your reflection (and in Jesus’ own words) that I found the most disheartening was the concept of “enemies.” I guess we have been so marred by wars and conflicts that we have to pin that label on someone to justify hate, mistreatment, scorn or simply disregard. I guess honestly saying “sinner like me” will never be the first choice when we see someone outside our circle.
Why do I not have the “Listen now” option? I miss it