A few months ago at Third Space we talked about how in today’s world only certain types of Christians seem to get respect. Poets, artists, pilgrims and activists. That set me to thinking about St. Francis who seems to be a popular saint in the eyes of the world today. May be it is just a sentimental popularity because of his affinity with animals, but when you read about his life, you can see why this remarkable man had a following in the Thirteenth century and still has today.
So downloading and preparing for Sunday morning from the Book – Francis, stories and reflections, by Andy Freeman, I could not resist a look at a modern day “Francis” that he opens his book with. He describes the scenes on the day when Pope Francis was elected and some of the things he has said and done since becoming pope.
I am not a catholic but I have to confess being impressed with this man. He seems to try very hard to be like Jesus and although it appears to be much easier to do Jesus like things when it is your job, getting changes in the Vatican must be a constant struggle. I was challenged to think about how “Jesus like” my life is. Unfortunately I fall very far short of Jesus and also Pope Francis.
When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night to break bread with the homeless. He would sit when them in the street and eat with them, just to let them know someone cares.
This Pope is intent on change. Here is a man seemingly orthodox in theology yet providing revolutionary love and acceptance to those who felt on the outskirts of the world. Since he has become pope he insists on wearing simple black shoes, and shunning pomp and circumstance, washing the feet of the poor and needy, welcoming refugees, asking members of Vatican to be even more hands on with helping the poor and sick, auctioning his bike to benefit the homeless, performing one of the most important masses of the year in the chapel of a prison and kissed the feet of the prisoners, speaking out in favour of the preservation of the Amazon Rain Forest and leaving the Vatican at night to help the homeless.
The Pope has condemned the financial system, inequality, consumerism and class separation.
Over recent years, the church has been the centre of attention on issues related to child abuse. This Pope was the first to act with a firm hand against these cases. He set up a committee to pursue these cases, and the Vatican changed the law to establish these acts as crimes.
He condemned the violence of war in Syria.
He stated that the Church was too obsessed with sexual morality abortion, gay marriage, and contraception and that it should be more concerned with the poor and needy.
When praying, the Pope proclaimed his respect for the end of Ramadan and encouraged Christians and Muslims to work together to achieve love.
He said the church’s stance on these issues was taking an air of obsession. He also criticised the church for forgetting the important belief of true love and prioritising moral doctrines before serving the poor and marginalised.
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Steve Jobs addressing students at Stanford University 12 June 2005
Now look at yourself in the mirror and ask – If today were the last day of my life, would what I do today be “Jesus like”?
How can I make what I do this week more “Jesus like”?