Leaving the mall yesterday, coffee in my hand, I walked quickly to my car. A few white snowflakes drifted by my eyes. Having been rather consumed the papal conclave, my immediate thought was, "I wonder if these are white ashes indicating a white smoke?"
I laughed to myself when I got in the car, at about 2:10, turned to the news radio station, and heard the wild applause. I knew what it meant, and it was all I could do not to start beeping my car horn to help them celebrate. Just five minutes or so prior, white ashes were indeed floating around St. Peter's Square.
I sat in traffic on the way home with butterflies in my stomach, waiting for the new pope to be announced. It took FOREVER! (about an hour, but it seemed so long, because they kept saying he would come out in about 10 minutes.)
Nervous. Why was I so nervous? I'm not Catholic.
"The Pope is for everybody," I have heard said many times before. I used to scoff, thinking how nice it was of these folks to share, but I didn't want any.
But now, I think I might be starting to get it a little. I am not Catholic, but I am part of the catholic church. In the sense I am using, "catholic" (the one with the lower-case "c") means "broad" or "wide-spread." Catholicism is a part of the Christian catholic church, and so am I.
I have one unshakable belief: Jesus Christ, Son of God died in my place to atone for my sins. He did that because He and the Father, who are One, love me and have given me that gift to spend eternity with them in Heaven. There is no other Way.
If you call yourself a Christian, hopefully that is what you believe as well. If you are Catholic, you probably call yourself Christian as well, and that would make you my brother or sister in Christ. I rejoice with you.
So, who is the Pope to me? Hard to say, as it is not my church. That's how I see him -- as the leader of the Catholic church. I attend a church with a phenomenal pastor. He preaches the Word of God as absolute Truth, and he practices the love of Christ to all of his sheep.
I am excited because another Christian church is getting a leader who appears (from what I have seen) to have a similar loving expression for those in his enormous fold. I love the "idea" surrounding Pope Francis, that of simplicity and poverty. He appears to champion humility, a Biblical principle that the Son of Man demonstrated when he washed the feet of even the man who was going to betray him. He has a heart for the poor, which was also something we saw as Jesus found abandoned lepers to heal, and even a man who lived in a pig's wallow.
I like him. I have no idea what the hope is for his policies and such. There is plenty in the Catholic church that I do not necessarily agree with. I'll steer clear of all that discussion. But the bottom line is that members of a Christian church need to represent Christ. They should have a leader to show them what it looks like.
There has been talk about walls coming down because he is not European. But I hope that when Pope Francis was selected, the Cardinals weren't thinking about that. I hope they were looking at his heart and choosing who they thought God had ordained to lead this church.
I ask God to bless the new pope, Pope Francis I.
Passion Under Grace,