Frank Weathers reflects here about the new pope:
Early on, in the midst of the preparations for the Conclave, while we all wondered who would emerge as our next pope, I made the following statement: “I’m like the grizzled noncom who doesn’t really care who the Commandant of the Marine Corps is, as long as he’s more of a Marine than I am, and you salute him properly.”
By that I meant that all I was concerned about regarding the forthcoming Pope was that a) he was holier than I am, and b) folks respect him accordingly.
I thought the other day that getting used to Pope Francis must be a bit like some kid trying to get used to a new step father. Dad passes away, Mom re-marries and suddenly he’s got a new Dad!
“Yucch! Hooray! Yucch, I hate this guy I want my Dad back. Hooray! This guy can do stuff Dad never did. He likes rock climbing but can’t tell stories like Dad. But Dad never did rock climbing. But this guy repairs cars. But Dad used to take me hunting. This guy is cool. I miss Dad. I like this guy. I wish Dad were back.”
Mixed emotions — and I’m wrapped up in it all too. Francis is from a far country. His life with the poor, his standing up to the dictators, his Franciscan spirit and his subversive attitude are great. But I miss Benedict and John Paul. JP2 was my papa. He’s one of the reasons I became a Catholic in the first place.
Benedict was his friend and for my money was even more “my” pope. We’re both bookish and like old stuff. He was quiet and knew his stuff. I miss him, and you know what, I’m going through a bereavement. All the classic stages are there. Denial. Anger. Blame.
Dad has gone, but hey, this new Dad is teaching me a new attitude and a new perspective. He’s taking me places I have only ever looked at from afar before. I guess I can go on that adventure. Or do I cross my arms, put out my bottom lip, maybe whimper a little and say, “He’s not my Dad. I want Dad back.”?
In the midst of all the media hoo ha and trying to figure out this new pope we all do well to remember this analogy of the new stepfather, and if Benedict was our much beloved papa, to allow ourselves to be bereaved.
And we should remember that the life is a casting off. The life of faith is not supposed to be comfortable. We’re supposed to launch out and do some wave walking. We’re supposed to be standing on our heads and looking at the world from a new perspective and if Pope Francis helps us to do that–and remember that St Francis was le jongleur de Dieu — the little tumbler of God–then let’s limber up and attempt a few back flips, and if we can’t do that then at least let’s try a little forward roll.
And if we topple over while attempting to stand on our head it’s best to lie on the ground and chuckle a bit before getting up to try again.