I’ll probably be called a ‘hater’ but …
Whenever there is a tremendous outpouring of love and adoration for a pope it disturbs me. I understand that every pope speaks eloquently of love and good works especially towards the vulnerable of a society such as the poor, unborn and immigrants. They are also filmed in very well choreographed settings such as hospitals, jails and homeless shelters. Teachings and actions of love especially for the ‘least of these’ is laudable and God-pleasing.
However we must remember that our citizenship is in heaven and that we are in this world but not of this world. Critics of this truth will repeat Karl Marx’s criticism of religion as being the opiate of the people meaning that we just look heavenward and pray oblivious to the pain and suffering of those around us. History has proven him wrong. Christian charities have been far and away the most generous and compassionate of all charities. There have been times when Christian charities have responded with more generosity than entire governments where various disasters occurred.
What Karl Marx and those like him didn’t understand is that belief in eternity frees us from ourselves and enslavement to this world. We are content to help others rather than focus on ourselves and ‘protect what is ours’ in this world because we know real joy and ‘riches’ will be ours in the next world.
Therein lies my discomfort with the adoration and photo ops concerning the pope. It is the hope of eternity which frees us from ourselves and empowers us to do acts of selfless love daily. It is not the words or examples of a man which can do this.
The path to eternity has been very clearly laid out by Jesus. He is ,after all, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Papal decrees, worship of Mary and intercession of ‘saints’ clutter that path. I also understand the beauty and pomp of tradition but only when it assumes its proper place which is secondary in authority to the Scriptures.
Many will say that the coverage of the papal visit at least brings something good to the nightly newscasts. Sorry but I feel it is merely a ploy for ratings. There are hundreds of thousands of unstaged acts of Christian love being done daily not only in prisons, shelters, nursing homes,street corners, and foster homes in this country but in hospitals,refugee camps and places of terrible poverty in countless other countries. They will never be covered because those doing those acts will fearlessly raise the Name of Jesus something which I have yet to hear be done during this current papal visit.
Ultimately all of our acts of kindness will fall short and we will stand before the Living, Holy God with the darkest secrets of hearts and most shameful of our actions or lack of action laid bare. Our only hope will be Jesus the perfect Lamb of God Who came to take away the sins of the world. And woe to those who have cluttered the path given by God which leads to His Son.