I’m sure you’ve heard Christ’s miracles rationalized. The miracle of the loaves and fishes, for example. You will hear that it was the spirit of sharing inspired by Jesus that resulted in the feeding of the multitude, not some magical expansion of those five loaves and two small fishes.
And, surely, you have heard that Santa Claus “exists” through the spirit of giving in our hearts at Christmas.
Viewed from that perspective, Pope Francis may well be a miracle worker.
By his gentle demeanor and mild words, by his inclusive smile and wide-open arms, by his refusal to be drawn into shaming and blaming, this Pope radiates a message of forgiveness and love, not disapproval and disdain.
It is a message that is resonating around the globe, calling out “Sinner, come home!” Promising forgiveness and redemption. Drawing us in, not shutting us out.
Could this be what the world needs now? Love, sweet love?
It is certainly not a message reserved for Roman Catholics. It is the central tenet of all Christian faiths. Love God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself.
Culd this turn out to be the transformational mracle of the Twenty-first Century?
Not if the Religious Right can stop it. Shockingly, many American “conservatives” are condemning the Pope for his inclusive and forgiving message.
In Salon.com today, Bob Cesca reports:
With the Pope’s visit to the United States launching Tuesday, Republicans are lining up to condemn his views on everything from the climate crisis to income inequality and, most recently, confessional forgiveness for women who have abortions
This negative response to the Pope’s call for us to love one another has been expressed by several of the Republican presidential candidates, even professed Catholics like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
The Republican rank and file are also up in arms. Arizona’s Paul Gosar announced he is boycotting the Pope’s speech to Congress, for example. Fox News pundits are raging against the pontiff’s “interference.” And the rest of the right-wing noise machine is in full cry.
My instinctive response to this hatemongering is revulsion and loathing. But I must resist those emotions.
They are counter to the Pope’s central theme. I must somehow find compassion and tolerance in my heart – even for those who have so perverted politics and society. Even for those who – as the Salon writer put it – “exploit religion to oppress, restrict and demonize.”
I am sure Pope Francis would encourage us to point out the flaws in their thinking but with a conciliatory tone.
I expect him to take that gentle approach when he addresses Congress on Thursday and the UN General Assembly on Friday. And who knows? His words could begin the healing that America – and the world – so badly needs.
And that would be the miracle we have all been waiting for.