The Company that Pope Francis Keeps

Last week when I learned about who the president invited to the White House’s welcome of Pope Francis, I was pretty upset.

The fact that our president and other Americans would use such a visit to further their own political agenda and potentially cast the Pope as supporting their cause infuriated me and made me worry about the potential defamation of his image and potentially the image of the whole Catholic Church.

I started to think about how the Pope should respond, and immediately my mood changed. You see, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in very similar situations.  In Luke 7:36-50,  the woman of ill-repute anointed Jesus’ feet. While the Pharisees criticized the use of the expensive balm, Jesus’ response to her was love. Then in Matthew 9:9-13, we hear about the apostle Matthew’s call, after which Jesus dines with tax-collectors and sinners. The Pharisees are the ones to judge and ridicule Jesus as he showed them what it means to love.

Will we be like Pope Francis?

Before you get defensive about this analogy, I’m not comparing those invited to the ceremony to prostitutes and tax collectors. The connection lies in the open dissention to Church teachings, which is why  these people were invited in the first place.
No matter who is invited to be in the Pope’s presence (or ours for that matter), the only response can be love. We wouldn’t want our Pope to behave in any other way, nor should we. So what if the Pope meets with and dines with those that dissent from Catholic teaching? Isn’t this exactly what he should be doing?!

Sure, there are times to teach and defend what we believe in. However, if we are going to convert hearts, we must show them ours first.

We’re all consumed with worry about how the world will see him and if  this might misconstrue Catholic teaching.  We’re saying to the Pope, “Don’t you know who this is that you’re dining with!?” But he knows exactly who it is. He is being Christ to everyone he meets.

Will we do the same?

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