Some people would tell you that God the Holy Spirit is such a prankster. Have you ever noticed how, when you are trapped in the bowels of the traffic-jam-from-Central-Hades, and you are praying like you have never prayed before that God would get you out of that traffic jam immediately if not sooner, that He sends you… another 40 minutes of traffic jam (!), because He knows that if you had the sense of a mealybug you would be praying for what you actually need, which is patience? Or how when you are engaged in a friendly debate with a Protestant at work, and you pray that God will give you the words to demolish the guy’s anti-Catholic argument, you suddenly become tongue-tied while he dances all over you, because God the Holy Spirit knows that you need humility far, far more than you need to win that argument? Or how when so many of us are praying fervently for a pope who will continue the intellectual achievements and liturgical reforms of our greatly beloved pope emeritus, God the Holy Spirit in His (literally) infinite wisdom guides the cardinals in electing Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis –
Pope Francis the Humble, who takes the bus.
Pope Francis the Humble, who cooks his own meals.
Pope Francis the Humble, who washes the feet of AIDS patients with the tender love of Christ.
Gee, what could the Spirit be trying to tell us?
Kids, meet your new Papa!
After two days of Papa Frank’s pontificate, we’re going into hysterics on the Left (“He’s a hardliner on abortion and homosexual adoption rights!!”) and on the Right (“He’s not a fan of the Traditional Mass!!”). Can’t you hear the holy laughter? The real problem is that we were all praying for what we wanted. God gave us what we needed.
As St. Paul told the Corinthians, the body of Christ is not one member, but many. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? If you were praying for an eye, and God sent you a foot, might that not cause you to think about whether God wanted you to get out a little more? This “foot”, this Francis, has much to teach us, in word and in deed. But are we cushy First World Catholics ready to learn from him? Can we pause for a moment of reflection? Can we look at him, and then look at ourselves, and see the disconnect? All of us, on the Catholic Left and the Right, agree on one thing – his humility is praiseworthy, and his devotion to the poor most admirable. Right. I don’t know about your life, but the lifestyle of the average First Worlder is without a doubt more affluent than that of the bus-riding, apartment-dwelling Cardinal from Buenos Aires. Abstemious, we ain’t. Let’s ponder that.
I pray that Francis will not be alone as he performs his acts of deep humility, but that he will be joined by an ever-growing cadre of Catholics willing to divest themselves of their devotion to their own personal comfort in their zeal to follow the Lord in lives (not just in Lenten fits) of real prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It will take an army made up of just that kind of Catholic to carry out the New Evangelization, because you’ve got to walk a meaningful walk before you can talk meaningful talk!
And for just such a time as this, God sends us Papa Frank. Can we imitate him as he imitates the Lord?
Fall in, Comfy Catholics – the joke’s on us! Line up behind your new Papa, and learn from him. And don’t forget to thank our God for graciously supplying all our needs…
…chuckling all the while!
On the memorial of St. Louise de Marillac
Deo omnis gloria!