“I really like Pope Francis.” That’s what a Mormon friend of mine posted on his Facebook wall. It was a simple statement, after all who doesn’t like Pope Francis? Nevertheless it got me thinking. What is it about him, what is that je ne sais quoi which makes him loved even by non-Catholics?
I was born into a Catholic family, though in my teens we joined an Evangelical/Pentecostal denomination and remained there ever since. Even during my Catholic days I didn’t really bother much about Popes. As far as it concerned me, the Pope was the leader of Catholics and that was that. Then Pope Francis came along.
He is someone I truly admire. In fact he is the only living Christian who I can say truly makes me want to be a better man. He’s someone who has gotten me excited about being a Christian and living the Christian life once again.
Maybe it’s his focus on what unites, instead of what divides.
Maybe it’s his courage to challenge the status quo, and admit mistakes and failings.
Maybe it’s his love for the poor, the maligned and the disadvantaged.
Maybe it’s because of what he said about being a disciple of an ideology versus being a disciple of Jesus.
Maybe it’s because he pointed out the church’s obsession with gays, abortion and birth control.
Maybe it’s because despite his beliefs, he chooses to embrace LGBT folk as people, he chooses to find a way of reconciliation. He doesn’t treat LGBTs as things or projects to be fixed, not strange people whose presence are merely tolerated but never truly welcomed.
Maybe it’s because he touched and blessed a man who had a severe bodily disfigurement.
Maybe it’s because a child could sit in his chair.
Maybe it’s because even though he’s entitled to riches, pomp and splendour, he chose to forsake them for simplicity and humility.
Maybe it’s because he washed inmates’ feet, including those of Muslims.
Maybe it’s his grace and authenticity.
And that points towards the very embodiment of grace and authenticity – Jesus.
He makes me think of Jesus.
Why wouldn’t that get me excited all over again about being a Christian? I think I have a lot to learn from his example. And I think us Protestants could learn from him as well. Perhaps if we embraced grace and authenticity once again, if we embraced Jesus’ ways once again, we would find unity. Peace. Even revival.
Father God, thank you for the Christlike example in Pope Francis.
Please bless him as he continues to be a shining example for the world.
And Father, please renew the joy of our salvation.
Help us, Lord, to be excited once again about being a Christian.
About doing your will.
About following the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Help us to be more gracious and authentic in our lives.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
CHRIS RAYAN is from Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia and is part of the microstock industry. When not immersed in photographs, he travels and takes more photographs. Sometimes he daydreams about finding Mr. Right. Follow his photography at http://instagr.am/malaysianguy