Anger and Example

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to work, it ceases to exist.    -St. Gregory the Great

Do you wish to discover the mysteries of God? Ask a man who, for the love of God, lives in evangelical poverty with joy. He knows the mysteries of God better than the wisest theologian in the world.    -St. Albert the Great

True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.    -Pope Francis

It seems everyone is getting all in an uproar about the work Pope Francis is doing. It's what got Mr. Ben Shapiro into a dither. From whence comes such madness?

Someone, perhaps George Weigel, said that St. John Paul II's papacy presented the philosophy of Catholicism, while Pope Emeritus Benedict's papacy presented the theology of Catholicism. Accepting that as accurate, then Pope Francis's papacy is showing us how that philosophy and theology is lived out in the life of a Christian. It's not making people happy. It's making them very, very mad.

Happily serving God is what we are supposed to be doing, though. It is easy to live in the mind or to pretend that all of the philosophy and theology aren't relevant to every day life. Christianity is so much easier when kept in the ether or the sanctuary. But our time spent in the sanctuary is supposed to be only a preparation for the greater time we spend in the fields. Pope Francis is showing us how the philosophy, the theology, and the liturgy prepares and strengthens us to be Christ's laborers, gathering where others have sown (St. John 4:38).

Take the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. Almost everyone is appalled that Pope Francis could possibly support a communist dictator. Yet, as Catholics, we constantly hear that we are to forgive our enemies and serve the poor and spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, yet, when it comes time to do that, we justify our hubris, sloth, and avarice.

"They should come here legally. Then they'll be worthy of my charity."

"They should get a job and work. Then they'll be worthy of my charity."

"They should get their lives straightened around. Then they'll be worthy of my charity."

"They should do something about their situation. Then they'll be worthy of my charity."

It's not our charity nor our gospel. It's Christ's and He commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to do for the least of these, and to pick up our cross and follow Him. Jesus didn't wait for Mary Magdalene to leave prostitution before forgiving her and it was His love, a love that saw her as made in His Image and Likeness, that gave her the strength to foreswear her previous life and follow Him to Calvary. Jesus was not interested in anyone's politics. His loved the Roman centurion, the Samaritan woman, and the Jewish woman with a hemorrhage without considering their politics and found admirable faith in each. He had a tax collector and a Zealot as two of His Apostles. Politics was not the answer. Christ's Gospel was, so an individual's politics was wholly irrelevant.

Politics is still not the answer and an individual's politics are still wholly irrelevant to Catholics. Pope Francis is living this out now. Pope Francis is not supporting a communist dictator in Cuba. He is loving a man as a child of God and who are we to say otherwise? After all, he who has not sinned, lob your rock. Pope Francis, as the Vicar of Christ, is following his Master's lead in this. Whether the people are Cubans, Catholics, Communists, poor, wealthy, elitists, radicals, or revolutionaries doesn't matter. They all need to hear the Gospel of Christ and there will be much good the Church can do for the Cubans now that the country is opening to the West. Are we really begrudging them the Gospel simply because the leader of their country may be as much of an ass as ours is?

What Pope Francis is accomplishing in his mission field, the world, is to be a concrete, living example of what we are supposed to be doing in our parishes, neighborhoods, and cities. Do we see that or are we so American, we've lost the ability to live as Catholics? Take some time to find the least of these closest to you and serve them.


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