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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pope Francis Loves The Scriptures

I am in the middle of the new Exhortation now, and I will not offer comment until I have read it entirely. But I am very glad he essentially begins with a reflection on several Scriptures. He weaves it into whatever he happens to be talking about, and I love it. It's the way he uses them that I appreciate. He acts like we've read and heard them before. Because we the faithful, have in fact heard them before. Pope Francis does not behave like a catechist in the local parish; there are people to do that.

There are obviously risks to thinking the best of people, in this sense, to put it mildly. One of the problems with this approach, you might say, is that people aren't as holy as you might think. More than that, though, is that people may not be as favorably disposed as a good but optimistic priest hopes. There really are loads of people who will take any ambiguity as an excuse to do what they want. Here's a thought worth considering, however: Why should the pope speak as though the hard-hearted and rebellious are his intended audience?

Didn't Jesus say, "He who has ears, let him hear"? He also told us not to throw pearls before swine. Don't waste your breath on people who aren't ready to hear you. Of course, God is the judge of that, and God moves the sinner by His grace, so be ready. I think Pope Francis expects the faithful to take his cues; I don't think he expects to be misunderstood, or to be read uncharitably. He wouldn't even consider a plainly unorthodox interpretation of his words, because he intends to speak to and for the faithful.

I think it's at least possible that many people fret about things the pope said or didn't say because they have a smaller amount of faith than they care to admit openly. There is much invested personally in being "an orthodox Catholic" or whatever you like, so that when sinners do what sinners do, such people have a powerful need to show that they are definitely not on board, and that they are fighting the evil, in the court of Church opinion, so to speak. The thing is--and try to really remember this--God doesn't need us. He doesn't actually need me or you, or anyone else you know, really. If in His kindness He permits us to be a part of what He's doing--which is often the case--he does it for our good, or the good of others, not because He can't or won't do something.

I trust Pope Francis. I don't fear whatever he'll write or say, because the word of the Lord is unchanging. He can't change the stuff that matters, because he's only the servant of revealed truth, not its master. I'll let his confessor make the judgments about what he should or should not have said. It's not my area.

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