Tomorrow is inauguration day for Pope Francis. The ceremony will take place amid the pomp and splendor of a 2,000-year-old Church. The whole world will watch.
What sort of person is this man who will wear the shoes of Peter?
Evidently, some people are flummoxed because Pope Francis has been photographed wearing ordinary black shoes, and rather worn ones at that. Where, they ask, are the red shoes that signify the Apostolic succession? When I read the — to me — stunning amount of verbiage they are churning out over the shoes, I start feeling flummoxed myself.
The Pope’s shoes???
Of course, I’m only a convert. My sensibilities are different from those of cradle Catholics. I’ve learned on this blog that my sensibilities are also different from East Coast Catholics. I’m an Oklahoman. We have a more informal culture here. People here consider it a compliment when they tell someone not to “stand on ceremony.” We also have a vestigial frontier attitude toward those that do “stand on ceremony.” In Oklahoma, extreme formality is rudeness. It’s dissing, or as they used to say, “cutting” the other person.
So I’m having a little trouble processing this shoe thing.
I certainly don’t want to disrespect someone else’s deeply-held feelings, but the only way the shoe thing matters to me is that I can’t figure it out. This man is the Pope. He could wear flip-flops, and he’d still be the Pope. Actually, flip-flops are probably a lot closer to what our first pope had on his feet than hand-crafted red leather shoes. I would guess that St Peter wore homemade sandals all his days.
It’s the spirit of the law that matters. We know that because Jesus told us so. Pope Francis stands in the shoes of Peter, even when he’s barefoot.
This video may give us clues to the kind of person this man the Holy Spirit has gifted us with really is.