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November 24, 2013

Saint Peter taught me to love Pope Francis

Anyone who has been following my blog [along with family and friends] know that I have had serious issues with Pope Francis since Holy Week.  I have talked about it on my blog HERE and HERE, and I have left comments on the National Catholic Register and the Crescat blog and other Patheos Catholic blogs all year.  Even NBC News took note of my issues with Pope Francis.

I have had two major problems with Pope Francis…1) his style and 2) my inability to love him.  

I like people who “play by the rules”, the rules I know.  I like my t’s crossed and my I’s dotted.  That is my comfort zone.  Pope Francis from the beginning took me out of my comfort zone by washing Muslim women’s feet during Holy Week and that made me unable to trust him and because I was unable to trust him, I couldn’t love him. He wasn't following the rules that *I* knew and loved and trusted.

My distrust of him grew with each interview and his “Who am I to judge?” comment because I felt my distrust was proven at those moments.  Pope Francis was a liberal and to me that was as good as the Pharissees in the Bible.  

I had accepted him as Pope, but I didn’t like, trust or love him.  I put him in the “bad pope” category and turned my eyes to whoever the next pope would be.

I was DONE with him.

Or so I thought.

Today I watched EWTN’s coverage of the close of the Year of Faith Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square.  In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much because Pope Francis had never before impressed me and I had already chalked him off- as the saying goes.

Then I listened to his homily and he reached me with the words of the thief on the cross…


“Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.
I offer a cordial greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price. With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.
The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ as the centre of creation, the centre of his people and the centre of history. 1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20).
This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. When this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves. 2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.
Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny. 3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of the human race and of every man and woman. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.
While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom! Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Amen!” 
Before the end of the homily I was in tears.  I loved the scriptures he discussed and the humility of a sinner asking Jesus to remember him.  That was me.  I always want forgiveness and to be remembered by my Lord.  What Catholic wants to be forgotten by Christ?  As if!

Here I was wanting Jesus to ‘remember ME’, when I was doing my best to ignore and forget my Pope because I hadn’t found a way to understand and love him.  MY faults, not his.  How could I ask to be remembered and forgiven when I was deliberately working to forget Pope Francis was my pope?

I was the guilty thief on the cross being punished for my sin and I knew it.

Then Pope Francis took Saint Peter’s bones into his hands and like the Grinch on Christmas morning my heart broke and began to grow in love.  In that instant I fell in love with my Pope.


Seeing Pope Francis holding the bones of our first Pope and praying recalled all the scriptures I knew of Saint Peter.  Jesus calling Simon son of John as a disciple, Jesus renaming Simon son of John to ‘Rock’/Peter (John 1:42), Peter being quick to act harshly lopping off a man’s ear (John 18:10) to defend his Lord, Peter being given the keys (Matt.16:18) when Jesus tells him that He will build His Church on Peter our first Pope and so many more verses flooded my mind.  Now here was our first Pope, Saint Peter being held in the hands of our current Pope Francis.

That struck me – profoundly.

Saint Peter was not perfect.  His ways were not always the Lord’s ways…as scripture shows us.  But in the end, Peter did all Christ called him to do.  He was a sinner who became a Saint.  He was a fisherman who became a fisher of men.  A simple man who was called to be pope.

Saint Peter taught me to love Pope Francis today.  

I may not always understand Pope Francis’ ways of doing things, any more than some in Saint Peter’s day would have understood his ways, but the one thing I do know is that just as Simon son of John, Saint Peter was chosen by Christ to be the first pope of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, so was Pope Francis chosen to be our current Pope.  And for that, I love him.



In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

Link: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/15/20886834-not-everyone-loves-pope-francis-conservative-catholics-voice-concern-over-revolutionary-message?lite


11 comments:

Fr Longenecker said...

Yay! I have been making the same journey!

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Well Father, it looks like some of us took the longer scenic route in the journey but by God's mercy we will all end up in the same place.

:)

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

T Reid said...

So, you are equating the many intentional actions of Pope Francis and his deliberate statements in his interviews with St. Peter mistaking what it meant to be the Messiah and chopping off a man' sear out of fear and anger?
The other line from your post that blew my mind was that because you thought Francis was being liberal, that made him just like the Pharisees in the Gospels.
The Pharisees are so not liberals.
I'm glad you "love" Francis now, but you cannot chalk up his first 7 months as a bunch of mistakes. The man knows who he is and what God is calling him to do. The Spirit is always surprising us, liberals and conservatives alike.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Hello T.Reid!
Let me clarify for you. First, I am saying I may NEVER understand Pope Francis' ways or style of leading the Catholic Church, but I have confidence in Christ that whatever purpose God had in calling Pope Francis to be pope, he will complete the task.

Secondly, to your Pharisees comment, the Pharisees believed they were doing what God wanted, but they were not- they were wrong.

I saw Pope Francis like that- thinking he was doing what God wanted, but he was wrong- IN MY OPINION. Because *I* saw what TO ME was all errors, I could not trust or love him.

But Saint Peter showed me that he - a Saint and our first pope- was also wrong on occasion and made errors, yet he was STILL chosen by Christ to be Pope. Faults and all... he was still the chosen one among all the Apostles- as Pope Francis is today.

THAT I can accept and understand even if I don't understand anything else Pope Francis does.

I trust Christ when I can't see His ways or the pope's way of doing anything. I have to keep my trust in Christ and know that in the end, all Pope Francis was called to do in his Papacy will be completed in God's time.

Any clearer? I hope so.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

troy said...

I have always loved this simple Pope. Coming from such a beautiful yet dysfunctional natural family, i have been able to separate OUR Holy Father's actions and sometimes hurtful words (i was part of a group that sent him a spiritual boquete) from WHO he is. If I'm to honor my earthly father with all his short comings, surely i can do the same for my spiritual Father!

D.A.Howard said...

I will never trust Francis. He said in the La Repubblica interview (which he approved) that he does not worship a Catholic God. So Jesus is not head of the Catholic Church and in hypostatic union with his divinity and consubstantial with the Father and Holy Spirit?

Until Francis recants of this, I will never trust him. He did, however, admit to making a mistake. At least he has some humility.

Ellen said...

I take what the press says about the pope with a HUGE grain of salt. I predict that in the coming year, they will turn on him. And I predict in the coming year, that he will keep on being the kind man he is. Yes I miss Pope Benedict, but I have grown to love Pope Francis.

D.A.Howard said...

The pope approved the interview, so he admits he said it. He has no way out for him. The Vatican also confirmed that he approved the interview.

As he said in a letter to Cardinal Marchetto:

“You have manifested this love in many ways, including CORRECTING AN ERROR OR IMPRECISE COMMENT on my part – and I thank you for that from my heart – but above all it is manifest in all its purity in the studies on the Second Vatican Council” (Pope Francis, Letter to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Vatican, 7 October 2013).

Michael said...

"But the one thing I do know is that just as Simon son of John, Saint Peter was chosen by Christ to be the first pope of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, so was Pope Francis chosen to be our current Pope."

First, I'm not surprised to see Fr. Dwight cheering your conversion. He's been putting down everyone who's not achieved his "level of enlightenment" over this pope for some time now.

Secondly, how do we know Christ chose this guy? Dis Christ also choose Alexander VI?

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

To D.A.Howard: never say never.
:)

---------------------
To Ellen: Good for you!! Well done!

---------------------
To Michael: If Christ hand picked Judas, he can pick even Pope Alexander VI, don't you think?

And while he was a wretched disgrace, that doesn't mean he did no good at all as Pope: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01289a.htm


In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

T Reid said...

What I couldn't understand is why you don't see what Francis is doing as God's will. His mercy, humility, compassion and understanding mirrors Christ in the Gospels. Why would that be considered by you and others to be mistakes?
After your clarification, I still disagree with your position. Francis's actions have been inspirational and so so needed in our Church. They have not been bad for the Body of Christt, but have given it new life.

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