In response to yesterday’s published post, a friend wrote:
My problem is that the pope is NOT Christ, but he is treated like Christ. The worship and fawning from the media and others was nauseating.
My reply was:
He is not Christ… but Christ is clearly in him. And people are seeing that in droves.
This is the power of a papal visit.
The pope was here. The successor of Peter. The one who Christ named the rock. The one who Christ told to “strengthen your brothers” was here.
And that has something more than celebrity power.
It is the phenomenon described in Acts 5:15, where the people “even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.”
Did Peter’s shadow have magical powers? Certainly not. Was the fisherman from Galilee himself worthy of that much fuss? Far from it.
It was Jesus Christ they sought —and they knew where to find him. In his vicar on earth.
When Pope Francis made his first remarks on American soil, at the White House, some critics complained that he didn’t mention Jesus Christ. They took to Twitter, Facebook and blogs. “How dare he?” they asked.
When it was pointed out that Pope Benedict didn’t mention Jesus at the White House either, they said, “Well, he should have, too!”
I didn’t see anyone point out that St. John Paul II took the same diplomatic approach, but he did, or that Francis proclaimed Christ in every public event — but that was true, too.
I also didn’t see anyone point out that when you’re a Pope, you proclaim Christ with your very presence. This is what makes some of us uneasy about seeing the Pope in a line-up of religious figures. He looks strange there. He is a singular figure, not just one of the bunch.
He looks just as striking standing in the White House, dressed in white, like a host or an Easter Candle — a powerful presence that owes every bit of its power to Jesus.
Indeed they did. My mother yesterday told me she was moved time and again to tears by the Pope’s words and especially by his actions, particularly when he would stop to pray for and bless the sick encountered along the way.
Of course, he has his critics, within and outside the Church and some of them are more than a little vociferous, their motives and purposes really known only by God Himself.
For those, I close with the wisdom of Fulton Sheen and the hope that serious introspection might follow:
“A prophet is a Divine Troubler, not a political troubler. He is always a disturber of worldly peace; he makes listeners feel uneasy.”
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.