The Holy Father takes us back to basics and helps us see the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ
I love the Catholic Church but I sometimes think we become so wrapped up in being Catholic that we forget that we are followers of Jesus Christ.
We get so focused on church politics, good works, our favorite devotional practices, our particular social causes, our passion for the kind of liturgy we think best, or the way we think the Catholic Church should go that we overlook the simplicity of Jesus Christ and the beauty of his gospel. We get so wrapped up in what we think Christ’s Church should be that we forget Jesus Christ himself.
One of the greatest gifts Pope Francis has given the church is to take us back to basics. He helps us see the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ as they really are. Here are seven ways Pope Francis helps us see the raw gospel alive and active in the world today.
- He Criticizes Religious Hypocrites – Pope Francis cuts down high rolling prelates and punctures pomposity with his simple joy and positive actions. He tells clergy to drive simpler cars, live simpler lives and not to judge sinners harshly. The ones he scolds are the ones Jesus scolded: the self righteous, nose in the air, legalistic religious leaders.
- He Reaches Out to the Poor – Pope Francis’ constant emphasis on the poor echoes the heart of Jesus’ own message and ministry. It was to the sinners and outcasts that Jesus came, and his constant words and actions showed God’s mercy to the needy. In asserting this core message Pope Francis is reminding the world of the heart of the Christian gospel.
- Pope Francis Embraces Poverty – Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” At the heart of Jesus’ poverty was a detachment from the things of this world and a total attachment to his heavenly Father. Through the simplicity of his life Pope Francis reminds the world of the need to love God above all things.
- He Upholds the Truth in Love – Pope Francis upholds all the doctrines and disciplines of the Catholic Church, but he reminds us that these truths serve a greater good: the salvation of souls. When Jesus was criticized for breaking the rules he said, “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This is not because the rules are unnecessary but because we must go beyond the rules to something even better.
- Pope Francis Challenges the Ways of the World – The worldly person simply assumes that he is here to pursue pleasure, power, prosperity and prestige. Pope Francis turns that upside down and teaches that these values bring death not life. Jesus likewise overturns the world’s standards to reveal a new way of seeing.
- Pope Francis Is a Missionary of Mercy – Re read the gospel and see how often Jesus mentions the word “” The Good Samaritan was the one who “showed mercy.” In his treatment of the woman taken in adultery he showed mercy. The prodigal son’s father showed mercy. Pope Francis’ emphasis on mercy echoes the mercy Jesus constantly showed to all who turned to him. That mercy is at once forgiving and just. Pope Francis reveals that same mercy at work in the world.
- The Pope Lives as a Sacrificial Servant – Jesus’ life was self-sacrifice incarnate. At every point he lived for others and finally he died for others. Pope Francis brings to the papacy the life of service. Following in the footsteps of his two immediate predecessors, Pope Francis exhibits what it means to be “the Servant of the Servants of God.” Likewise Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In his life and ministry Pope Francis has been given the charism not only to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to live out that gospel in a way that preaches to the whole world and encourages Catholics to follow his example so that they might truly be Christians— “little Christs” in the world.