Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
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Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed…Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “…When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils.”
Driving out Critics. Jesus traveled up and down Israel, visiting towns and villages and curing the ill and the possessed. His skeptics never accused Him of having faked a miracle. They couldn’t. Towns and villages were small back then, as some are today. Everybody knew each other. In the case of the blind man, people knew the man’s family, especially his mom and dad. They knew him! They grew up with him. In the case of the poor widow who lost her only son, neighbors and friends were there to see it for themselves. They saw him take his last breathe. They comforted his mother. They painstakingly prepared his body for burial. I could go on and on.
Now what cannot be ignored is the fact that most of Christ’s miracles occurred in public, in front of believers, skeptics and critics. For example, the multiplication of the loaves; the raising of Jarius’ daughter and of His personal friend, Lazarus. As I said before, his critics could not accuse Him of having faked a miracle, so they had to accuse him of breaking the Sabbath, and now, working for the devil, the prince of demons, Beelzebul.
Critics and skeptics are not at all uncommon. Often, we attribute good things to “chance” or “coincidence.” Some fundamentalist protestants attribute visions of Mary to Satan. Some interesting fellow attributes the Pope’s fame as a sign of the end of the world! And because he is so “loved” in the world, they refer to him as a “false prophet.”
On a more serious note, some non-believers claim Pope Francis hired a great PR firm to shore up support for the Catholic Church. Sounds intriguing, but void of any facts. In fact, they ignore the fact that the Pope is saying and doing and living the way he did back in Argentina.
But for others, the Pope is affectionately known as People’s Pope, or the Poor People’s Pope. For the right, he is another President Obama. For the left, he is their poster child and President Obama’s Last Hope.
But if we were to all come back to reality for a moment, then we would have to say that Pope Francis is simply the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, with frailties, failures and humanity combined. It’s that simple…and that spiritual. Everything else is spin and a clever way to turn the truth upside down and get it ignored.
There are so many people in our world that would love to secularize the world, including the Church. They do it for obvious reasons. Sure the Pope could teach a few lessons on leadership to CEO’s. It’s clear he would be the greatest leader in the world. But let’s not forget the obvious. The Pope is a spiritual person, a son of the Church, a child of God, a man living by a very high standard: Jesus Christ. It’s no coincidence. It’s no lucky break. It’s the result of grace, faith, personal prayer and great sacrifice.
Driving home God. During Christ’s life, there were more than a few people who wished to spin Him, insult Him, belittle Him and twist Him. In summary, they wished to define Him. But their definitions came from preconceived notions and from blind ignorance, not facts. Similarly, some people see the Pope the way they want him to be: as a false prophet, a PR man, a stunt man, a political man, a people’s man. But before God, He is what he is, regardless of the constructs of others. The Pope is both sinner and the Vicar of Christ; meek and powerful; poor and dignified; servant and head; friend and confessor. Concepts and realities as surprising as Jesus being both God and man.
Hey, it’s not the Pope’s fault. It’s Christ’s. He started this whole paradox thing.
Only the Lord could ever put such things together and redefine success. (0)
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