Shout Out to my Peeps in B.A.!

"The First Peep Pope" by Terri Turner from the Seattle Times' Annual Peeps Contest. Click on the picture to go to the slideshow of more wildly creative Peeps panoramas.
“The First Peep Pope” by Terri Turner from the Seattle Times’ Annual Peeps Contest. Click on the picture to go to the slideshow of more wildly creative Peeps panoramas.

Today the first Latin American pope was elected and to the seeming shock of many, he’s a staunch Catholic. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, is Italian by ancestry, an academic by profession, and the first Jesuit to become pope. Jesuits typically live simple lives and are devoted to causes like human rights, higher education, and social justice. 

I’m not Catholic and I don’t agree with the Catholic church sometimes. They add a lot of layers and rituals to what is supposed to be a direct and open relationship with Jesus. Considering that one in seven people on this planet are Catholics, though, they can be a powerful force for good. I celebrate what we have in common. I rejoice in the hope we share.

Yes, scandals in the church such as widespread sexual abuse of children have not been handled in a swift and decisive manner like they should have been. Not allowing priests to marry can create sexual pressures and deviancy in many forms. I do believe in some forms of birth control with the caveat that it can be poisonous for both our bodies and the environment (hormones being flushed into waterways are mutating fish and wildlife).

But I was elated to learn that Pope Francis is likely to stand his ground on issues like abortion and marriage. Catholics intend him to be Christ’s representative on earth, do they not? If so, then why should he kowtow to views other than Christ’s? Why should the church bend to accommodate practices that are not scriptural or Christian? That’s what makes it the church. We are to love those who disagree but not condone their opinions.

Nowadays people like to make Jesus into all kinds of characters He’s not. Bible believers are accused of being false Christians  and the “true” Christians are supposedly those who let everyone do what they want regardless of the consequences to self or society. Jesus is being made into a hedonist– “oh, dear children, do whatever makes you happy, and in the end we’ll all be glad we just had a good time.”

No! Being a Christian means you are a follower of Christ– not perfect, just someone who believes He is who He says he is and works to become more like Him. It means looking to Him as our ideal, not, as the Manufacturer’s Handbook says, being conformed to the world. It means taking the road less traveled– the road that requires standing up for what’s often unpopular and ridiculed. He is Truth and Grace. Millions want Him to be Grace only, denying His truths as if He said them in jest.

It is often easier to treat ourselves as gods and as masters of our own destiny. It can give us intense short-lived pleasure. This is the snake’s original lie that is responsible for all hell and horrors in the human experience. Believing in a God who has standards and particular morals requires work– I’m utterly human and have epic struggles with this. Just like people don’t want to work at their relationships and marriages so give up and move on to the next shiny thing, we’d rather float with our own self-centered currents than swim against the tide.

Pope Francis, so far, appears to be a man who aspires to be more like Christ and who will swim against the vocal tides that want him to lay aside his Bible-based beliefs in favor of doctrines more “equal.” If he did that, would he really be a Christian or Catholic? Isn’t this willingness to please God rather than man a hallmark of a sincere believer?

Thomas Jefferson said in matters of style to swim with the current, but in matters of principle, to stand like a rock. While I can get into a lengthy debate about why I’m Protestant and have a profoundly deep respect for Martin Luther, it is true that Christ looked at Peter and said, “upon this rock I will build my church.” Catholics consider Peter the first pope and so far this pope sounds like he could be a rock on contentious moral issues.

Floating with the current will eventually sweep us off of a cliff into oblivion. Standing up for Jesus as He is, not as people want Him to be, will be actions that, to paraphrase Marcus Aurelius, echo in eternity. We’ll see how Pope Francis works out and how far he’s willing to go for what is right and just and holy in this increasingly dark and hostile world.

In conclusion, I do want to give a shout out to my people in and from Argentina– Catholic or not, it is certainly exciting that a hometown boy is now sporting the Papal mitre. And while somehow the first mental image I got while writing this was Steve Martin as the pope in a late ’70s SNL skit (?!!)–

Steve Martin Pope

–the image I want to leave you with is that of my dear uncle who has been a missionary in Argentina for many decades: http://ralphhiatt.blogspot.com/.

San Justo Catedral de la Fe 6

Like the new Pope Francis I, he has dedicated his life to working tirelessly to help the poor and to bring eternal hope to countless people. I smiled when I heard that  Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis, because Frances was my aunt who also ministered in Argentina for decades before going home to the Father she served so faithfully.

Good name.

Siempre que oramos por ustedes, damos gracias a Dios, el Padre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, pues hemos recibido noticias de su fe en Cristo Jesús y del amor que tienen por todos los santos a causa de la esperanza reservada para ustedes en el cielo. De esta esperanza ya han sabido por la palabra de verdad, que es el evangelio que ha llegado hasta ustedes. Este evangelio está dando fruto y creciendo en todo el mundo, como también ha sucedido entre ustedes desde el día en que supieron de la gracia de Dios y la comprendieron plenamente. -Colosenses 1:3-6

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God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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©2013 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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