We believe that the Pope is the successor of Peter. This is not just a historical pedigree or the fact that he lives just a few yards from where Peter was buried. The pope is the successor of Peter in a dynamic way. In other words, what happened to Peter happens to the pope. Peter was an ordinary fisherman from Galilee who was transformed by Jesus Christ.
Peter was changed by the resurrection and filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As a result he was transformed into a dynamic preacher who converted thousands. He became a tireless missionary, a persecuted saint and a glorious martyr.
The pope is the same. His friends say that once he stepped into the shoes of the fisherman he was transformed. He is s different man. The shy somewhat authoritative bishop became a dynamic world leader. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and filled the apostles at Pentecost has filled Pope Francis.
We also believe that at ordination and baptism a new identity is given to the person. Their name changes and their ontological identity changes. This theological truth we see in Pope Francis being presented to the world.
Finally, we believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is Christ’s representative on earth in a unique way. He is a living icon of Jesus–not just because he does nice stuff for people, but as a supernaturally charged reality.
Therefore what we are seeing in the enthusiasm of the crowds, the respect of the politicians and the media is an instinctive recognition and admiration for Jesus Christ himself.
The people want the pope because–even when they don’t know it–they want Jesus Christ.
The people follow after the pope because their hearts are longing for the reality, truth, beauty and goodness of Jesus Christ.
The final takeaway is this: If the pope has been transformed like this and is a living icon of Christ–then I am also called to the same calling as a priest and you are called to this if you are one of the baptized.
I guess we’d better get busy.
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