Have you ever had a conversation where you expected the other person to say something specific and they surprised you? Honestly, most verbal exchanges have a predictable pattern to them: weather, sports, achievements of children and health concerns circle around the goal of appropriate repartee. I have spent a lifetime of dancing to the tedious steps of acceptable topics of communication. And my entire professional life has been dedicated to finding non-threatening ways of interpreting the radical teachings of Jesus. Teachings that got him killed for their inflammatory content. I only began to enjoy preaching once I found my authentic way of speaking but always feel confined by the need to ease into the potentially churning waters of controversy.
I am personally delighted to listen to someone who has a fresh, contemporary way of looking at the Jesus story. After years of listening to rather alienating papal commentary, it is taking me by surprise to hear the comments of Pope Francis who in a recent interview said, “we have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
I beg your pardon?
Just when you think everything is inextricably mired in predictability, someone comes along and says something that takes your breath away. And make no mistake; he is beginning an entirely new conversation. And isn’t that the way of the true prophet? Anyone can reheat old ideas and rant on familiar platforms. It is the authentic visionary who rises up and dares to reinterpret. Although, perhaps Pope Francis is actually borrowing old ideas himself, after all when he states that the church should be a “home for all,” doesn’t that sound a little like someone else? Who is it? Who was it that kept harping about loving our enemy, and reaching out to the poor, who was it that embraced and welcomed the outcasts of society? Hmmm……oh, I can’t remember! Can you?