Pope Francis and the Facets of the Catholic Church
What he was fleeing was not so much Nineveh as the boundless love of God for those people. It was that that didn’t come into his plans. God had come once… “and I’ll see to the rest”: that’s what Jonah told himself. He wanted to do things his way, he wanted to steer it all. His stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his pre-ordained methods, in his righteous opinions. He had fenced his soul off with the barbed wire of those certainties that instead of giving freedom with God and opening horizons of greater service to others had finished by deafening his heart. How the isolated conscience hardens the heart! Jonah no longer knew that God leads His people with the heart of a Father.”
And at his first Angelus on March 17 as Pope Francis, he would continue:
“Well, brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, who always has patience. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not weary of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart.”
“Let us not forget this: God never wearies of forgiving us, never! So, father, whats the problem? Well, the problem is that we grow weary, we do not want to, we tire of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but we, at times, we tire of asking forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father, who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And we too learn to be merciful with everyone.”
This was our new Pope. The Vicar of Christ. I have to admit, I had my momentary misgivings when I saw Pope Francis. On the heels of the world traveler, charismatic Pope John Paul II and the brilliant, insightful Pope Benedict XVI, I felt there was little chance that the College of Cardinals could select another extraordinary Heir to St. Peter. But I seem to have forgotten the role of the Holy Spirit in these proceedings. What originally, in my eyes, was a small, shy, bespectacled Pope in the shadow of giants, turned out to be anything but that… This Pope was proving to be humble, yet confident. Simple, yet profound. Innocent, yet wise. Principled, yet seasoned in practice. Perhaps after an essential John Paul II and an essential Benedict XVI, it is now time for a Pope Francis…Yes. And thus far, Pope Francis is proving to be yet another of the beautiful facets of the jewel that is the Catholic Church – where each facet is unique, rich, and indispensable. Indeed, something special is happening in the Catholic Church – a mighty special something. Habemus papam.