Pope Francis is about to impact the greater Washington DC area like a snow storm or Direcho. People are being encouraged to stay indoors and off of roads. Religious news should be covered by meteorologists at this point.
The man who took on the name of St. Francis as his moniker has been shaking up the Vatican. His humility, his deep and authentic concern for the poor, his articulate defense of the earth and concern for climate change, his commitment to simplicity in his personal life and of course, his devotion to God are compelling qualities and we should take a moment to listen to him and seriously consider what he would say to the Catholic Church in America and Christians in general.
But of course, there is a deep divide between the Pope and his church and Protestants. We are not welcome to eat at the Table of our Lord and that because of theological differences. Those theological differences are complex at times and they have endured over millennia. The same can be said of all the issues Francis has chosen to address. His gift, it seems to me, is his direct and simple devotion to the love of Christ so that, for example, instead of waxing philosophically about the poor, this man invites the poor, the hungry and the prisoner to dinner and he even washes their feet. Such simple acts of devotion have a way of clearing the decks. That is why a simple act of devotion by this pope could have a far-reaching, dare I say, even earth-shattering, effect on Christians globally: when he invites me or any other Protestant to receive the bread and wine of the eucharist instead of singling me out, with my arms crossed to the priest to identify myself as someone worthy of being blessed but unworthy of the Lord’s supper. When he does that, the Church Universal (catholic) will radiate with reconciliation. I pray for Pope Francis’ success and safety. May his visit here leave us better people, more humane and just. And one day, may all of us sit at the table of Christ as authentic brothers and sisters. ~See you Sunday