Saturday, October 05, 2013

Pope Francis and Palm Sunday

A lot of discussion has arisen about Pope Francis' recent interviews. Whatever you think about it, a lot of people are confused. Two things are good to keep in mind.

1. When Pope Benedict wrote his book on Jesus, he said that it was not a work of the magisterium and so "Everyone, then, is free to contradict me." That is important to remember when it comes to non-magisterial statements of the pope. An off-the-cuff interview falls into that category. So it's healthy that Catholics are debating what Francis said and sometimes disagreeing with it. He is not speaking infallibly in these interviews.

2. I started to notice that a lot of praise was coming to Francis from unusual quarters, that is, from people who are generally not on board with Church teaching. In other words, the world has been praising him. But some of that praise is coming to him for the wrong reasons.
Some people think that he is softening the Church's teaching on the hard issues, like abortion, contraception, and same-sex unions. Actually, he is not. But that is the perception. And in the media, perception often counts more than the truth.

I think it is a lot like Palm Sunday. The crowds who turned out to praise Jesus would, just a few days later, shout violently, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Why? Because they were praising Jesus for the wrong reasons. Perhaps they thought he would overturn the hated Roman government and be a political Messiah. But as soon as they realized Jesus was not following their agenda, they turned on him.

The same thing will happen to Francis. Once the world and the media start to realize that he is not soft-pedaling the hard teachings of the Gospel, they will turn on him too. The day will come when Francis has to proclaim some of those hard truths, and many who praise him now will turn away. And such it has to be.

Jesus said, "I have chosen you out of the world--therefore the world hates you" (Jn 15:19).  If the world didn't hate the Church, if its shepherds only accommodated the worlds' demands, we would really be in trouble. Jesus was very stark: "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." (Jn 15:18-20).

That's why I feel uneasy when the world treats the pope like a rock star. He's not meant to be a rock star. He is the Rock of Peter, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Right now Francis is living his Palm Sunday moment. But just as assuredly his Good Friday will come, when he will have to climb his own Mount Calvary. Let us pray for him!


PokerLawyer said...

I am saddened to see so many jump on the "that's not what he meant!" bandwagon. I read this here and heard Teresa Tamio do it on EWTN this week. It's like neither of you heard what the Pope was saying. In my parish's Divine Mercy cenacle, we are learning about God's mercy and His wish that we would all know that His greatest attribute is mercy. I think Pope Francis knows and believes this to his core and he seems to be a person infinitely in love with Christ, which may help him see Christ in others.

At any rate, I was heartened by these words from Pope Francis: "We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."

In the face of dwindling vocations how can you and the Teresa Tamio's of our faith not see this? It's like you and others in the Church want to keep preaching how and what YOU want to preach without thought to those of us in the world seeking truth, needing love, dying for God's mercy. Many cannot and will not hear it from a church that is now, for better or worse (worse of course), the face of molesting priests (to people who know no better and don't have someone in their life telling - or even better - showing them any different).

Christians have been the so-called light of the world for decades now. Look where it's gotten us? More and more people turning away from organized religion and less and less young people claiming any belief in God.
What that tells me is that our example has failed and we must prayerfully ask what we are doing wrong and persevere.

Jesus met people right where they were. Why can't you?

It seems to me that's exactly what the Pope is trying to do. For faith's sake, I hope it helps and I wish you and people like Teresa Tamio and others on EWTN and in the Church would reflect on this. It's not just Catholics watching, reading, listening to you guys. What is the message you really want a heart to hear?

As Pope Francis said, we absolutely MUST find a "new balance." Our "same ol', same ol'" is just not going to cut it anymore.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Thanks for your comment, but it seems like you are responding to something other than my post. For example, you said, "Jesus met people right where they were. Why can't you?" How does that apply to anything I say here?
Jesus told the sinful woman, "Go and sin no more." Yes, he met her where she was at, but he called her to a better life.
What I'm saying here is that when the world realizes Francis is calling it to a better life, the enthusiasm will start to wane. In the Gospel Jesus told us that would happen and showed it by his own example. My point is really that if the world applauds us we're doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

I would like to enjoy the positive effects that Pope Francis is bring to Catholics. We have been assured by what Jesus said that He would be with the Church until the end of time. Pope Francis I think is a very good sign of this.

tagnes said...

Sr Lorraine,

I tweeted a similar sentiment to this recently and someone responded and said something like, "What if the world sees something in Pope Francis that we don't - why can't you pray and hope that they continue to love him and be interested in all that he says rather than assume they will turn on him?"

This gave me pause. After some thought I'm beginning to wonder if applause from the world is not always a bad thing. Some of the crowds who cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday may have been on to who he really was. They may have given up on him when his way turned out too difficult but who knows how many may have become Christians later because of what they saw in him on that day.

Like you, I assumed the world would turn on Francis, (and maybe secretly hoped that it would so things could get back to normal) - but now I'm not so sure that is the way to go here. I'm thinking there might be a more hopeful route - one that is open to the possibility that the world can - esp with our prayerful support - recognize Jesus in Pope Francis and be attracted to him because his life is a living of the Gospel.

In Jesus,

Sr Theresa

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Thanks, Theresa, for your thoughts on this. It is good to be positive and hopeful, so I do hope that things will turn out as you suggest.
Perhaps something will happen in the near future that will lead people to conversion, and if they see the Church as a place they can turn to then, that would be helpful. St Faustina mentions in her diary that at some point God will give the world a special grace, in which each person will see his or her life as it is. It will be like a near-death experience, a sort of life review. It would bring the possibility of a deeper conversion. I don't know when that might happen, but maybe sooner than we think.