A little over a month ago, I had started writing a post on people’s reactions (via FB and Twitter) to Pope Francis’ now famous “Who am I to judge?” statement. But for a multitude of reasons (and distractions), it seemed to take me forever to write it, and eventually, I went on to write about other things. I had thought, maybe the Lord doesn’t want me to write about this.
Apparently, He just wanted me to wait a little more.
A few days ago, America magazine published an extensive interview with the Pope, giving us probably the most thorough conversation thus far with the man who has been captivating the world since day 1. Reading it, I discovered a deeply prayerful man (as he should be!), firmly grounded in the Ignatian ways of discernment and being a contemplative in action (those words come up a couple of times), and overall, a humble servant of Christ. There is a certain reverence for the life of the Spirit in the Church with which he speaks. It is not a careful, I-better-watch-what-I-say kind of reverence, which most of the time tries to skirt the issue. Rather, he speaks simply, practically, and truthfully, exhorting all sons and daughters of the Church to focus on the most important thing (“Jesus Christ has saved you.”), and to share this first and foremost.
Instruction from the Vicar of Christ on how to evangelize and win hearts for God.
So imagine how I was taken aback by this headline from the New York Times:
Wha-?! Are we even talking about the same interview?
It was “Who am I to judge?” all over again.
I have read both of the Pope’s interviews (the in-flight conference on his way home after WYD, as well as this more recent one), and found, both times, his words to be inspiring, convicting and firmly grounded in Truth. In a society that seems so quick to judge others (and institutions) based on a single FB status or Tweet, Pope Francis says do not judge, forgive. Do not condemn (nor condone), but console. Do not hate, love.
Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. –Luke 6:36-37
But instead of heralding this teaching on love, reactors (in the media, both traditional and social) seem to be able to see only what they want to see–that is, whatever will support their preexisting ideas and views on the matter (even if it takes statements out of context and rearranging it so that it can take on whatever meaning or tone necessary to suit one’s purpose).
I remember how, when Mother Teresa’s years of spiritual darkness became newsworthy in 2007, believers and doubters alike reacted to the news.
Aha! There is your proof! Even “the Living Saint” says God does not exist!
What faithfulness, continuing her mission even when she couldn’t feel God in prayer!
Apparently, Truth is also in the eyes of the beholder.
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him. May He enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope His call holds for you, how rich is the glory of the heritage He offers among His holy people…(Ephesians 1:17-18)
Read. Think. Pray. And be open to the possibility that there’s more to it than meets the eye.