I didn’t sleep last night, playing out my crankiness over the Pope Wars in mental and spoken potential posts of staggering snarkiness. I raised my moralistic eyebrow higher and more uncontrollably than The Bachelor‘s notorious Tierra, whose eyebrow had its own Twitter handle. What made me so cranky was the inevitable rebound effect. Lots of those folks who, early on, so resented enthusiasm for Team Francis expressed as criticism of Team Benedict are now turning the tables and expressing their loyalty to Team Benedict and its captain with outright criticism of Team Francis and its captain.
Yesterday, when my Facebook news feed and Twitter page weren’t being flooded by pink equal signs on red and/or condemnations of the h8ers who weren’t changing their profile pictures to pink equal signs on red (another source of crankiness, another post for another time), I was seeing (and my eyebrow was replying to) stuff like this:
If Pope Francis wants to live in community, let him pick some cardinals to move into the papal apartments with him.
“Maybe he wants to live with real people, who get up and go to work every day and like to sit around at dinner passing the pasta and shooting the breeze?” Joanne’s Supercilious Eyebrow (JSE) replies.
[On the photo above, posted on Facebook] This is the Patriarchal Chair of Peter? An armchair? Tell me this is photoshopped.
“Peter sat in a smelly fishing boat, not on a gold throne or an armchair. And it’s not photoshopped.” (JSE)
By celebrating Holy Thursday Mass in private for a bunch of Muslim delinquents Pope Francis is denying Catholics the right to celebrate Holy Thursday with their pontiff.
“Go to your parish; the pope will be praying for you and with you wherever you are and he is. Even next to infidel yoots. Maybe especially there.” (JSE)
Jesus never washed the feet of sinners.
“Really? First I heard the Apostles were immaculately conceived.” (JSE)
Why doesn’t he just resign if the papacy is too much for his humble, simple self?
“Umm, wait—wasn’t that what Benedict did?” (JSE)
I’m miffed. I’m heartbroken. I’m appalled.
“You make me want to post a Grumpy Cat meme. You know which one.” (JSE)
As I was attempting to pull those I’m-rubber-and-you’re-glue gems into a post, however, God sent deliverance. The Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia (returned from Rome and sitting up and taking nourishment, God be praised) said it better and more prayerfully and without a single snarky eyebrow. And with this paragraph, she brought me to repentant tears:
Practically from the moment he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s, gazing with remarkable placidity upon the throng before him, it has been clear that this pope is a spiritual brawler — to the world, a quiet menace, because a spiritual brawler will smile and offer you nothing but ferocious tenderness, the kind that will impact, repeatedly, on the solar plexus, until we are breathless and ready for mercy. The world needs precisely this sort of pummeling — anything besides tenderness, and its guard would be forever up. As I have said before, everyone in turn, and in varying measures, is going to find something to love about Francis and something to be bugged by; we’re all going to be challenged out of our comfort zones.
Pummeled, in truth, by this pope, who is doing what is so hard—forcing us to look beyond him and the accidents of his papacy to the One whose substance he emulates, by whom we all are judged and loved, next to whom no eyebrow-lifting counts. The One who confused the hell (literally) out of everyone he encountered, including, at times, his own family. Who had no home but the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the house of Martha and Mary and Lazarus, with whom he loved to keep company. Who did Holy Week on his own agenda, and would not be turned aside even by those who loved him best. Who ate with infidels, and touched them with mercy, and drank water from their unclean buckets, and allowed as how, even though his mission was to the lost sheep of Israel, the dogs had a right to receive the crumbs from the table after all. Who spoke so simply and so without guile that people got nervous. Who refused any crown but thorns, any royalty but mocking purple rags, any kingdom but his Father’s.
This pope pummels my soul, delivering a roundhouse blow every second of every day in which I refuse, not to ask What Would Jesus Do? (because I know, and if I didn’t, all I’d have to do was look), but to Do As Jesus Does.
Friends, forgive my snark, my judgment. May the grace of this tender pummeling strengthen and purify our souls for the struggle. May this Holy Week open our eyes to Christ in our midst . . . and keep our eyebrows humbly lowered.