Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.
There…I said it! Somehow I think that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Every time the Holy Father speaks or gives an interview, I get a little more uncomfortable. And, if I could be totally honest, I don’t like the feeling. In order to clarify my position, let me explain a few things. I love Jesus, I love my Blessed Mother and I love everything about the Catholic Church. Being a member of the Church founded by Jesus is a great blessing and privilege. So what is it about Pope Francis that makes me uncomfortable?
For one thing, he’s constantly reminding me that I need to care about the poor. That’s a “no brainer”. Of course I care about the poor, unless I’m focused on my own financial struggles. When that happens, I have no problem throwing away the mail from the missions asking me to help feed the starving. And I pray for the poor, unless I have too many of my own intentions and somehow forget about them. Oh well, what are you gonna do? Nobody’s perfect. I just wish that he wouldn’t speak about the poor so much because it makes me feel guilty. Then there’s the fact that he’s constantly reaching out to “those people” who I’d like to forget. You know, the ones who don’t understand what it really means to be Catholic. Can’t we just leave them alone. We all know that they’re never going to “get it”. It’s a lot more peaceful when we just reach out to our fellow believers. If someone doesn’t appreciate what it means to be Catholic, why should I waste time coming up with creative ways to meet them where they are? That’s why it annoys me when the Holy Father keeps doing things like that. Shouldn’t he just be excommunicating those Catholics who make a mockery of the Faith? It worked for the Pharisees, didn’t it? Instead, Pope Francis is making me feel that I should learn to bite my lip and devise creative ways to bring Jesus (and the fullness of truth in His Catholic Church) to everyone. I don’t know about you, but it seems like a lot of work to me. Plus, it forces me to leave my “comfort zone”, which is something that I don’t enjoy.
Come to think of it, there’s someone else who makes me uncomfortable.
He often tells stories that make me squirm and feel unsettled. He reminds me that I’m not as good as I think I am and that I have an obligation to reach out to those I find annoying and arrogant. When I would rather tell them to “get lost”, I’m reminded of the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) and how that one lost sheep (out of one hundred) really does make a difference. When I try to rationalize that “some people just don’t want to listen”, I think about the woman who rejoiced in finding a single lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). Unlike me, she wasn’t tempted to say, “What’s the big deal? I have nine other coins!”. And then there’s that parable about the son who squandered his inheritance and came back to his father, repenting of his sins (Luke 15:11-32). I often identify with the elder brother who was angry that the father welcomed the prodigal son with open arms. After all, don’t I have a right to be angry? I love my Catholic Faith and I love Jesus, but some of “those people who don’t get it” are making a mockery of Jesus and His Church. Hey, I go to Mass and receive the Sacraments. If they don’t want to play by the rules they shouldn’t be Catholic. Why should I care about them?
You know why I should care?
Because Jesus cares about them and until every lost soul is reunited with Him, His Sacred Heart aches. So instead of arguing about the definition of the word “proselytize” and compiling a list of “modernist” popes, I’m so uncomfortable that I feel compelled to come up with ways to reach out to those who may not “get it”. Not only was I one of those people who don’t get it, but in many ways I still am. How many times have I read Jesus’ command to love my enemies, but have chosen to ignore them? Heck, I don’t even succeed at loving those who annoy me, let alone my enemies! Wouldn’t I rather listen to the Holy Father’s comments and feel good about what a great job I’m doing living my Catholic Faith? You better believe I would, but if I’m not living up to Jesus’ expectations, I’d rather find out about it now before it’s too late to correct my behavior!
Yes, Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable and so does Jesus. They make me realize just how complacent I’ve become and how little I care about those in need. You know what? I’m thankful that their words make me squirm, because that motivates me to get off my lazy rear end and start doing what I’m called to do as a Catholic – to show Christ’s love to everyone. That involves going out of my way to love them as Jesus would love them. It may involve sharing my possessions or it may involve sharing my time or knowledge of the Faith. And it may even involve coming up with ways to present the fullness of Catholic truth in a non-threatening way, so that others may come to know and love Jesus as much as I do.
Sometimes, being uncomfortable is a blessing, and I thank God that Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.