I have always hated Jesus’ defeatist attitude when He repeats Deut 15:11–“there will always be the poor among you.” It seems to demotivate my desire to serve others and causes me to wonder why bother? I have found that most people are motivated to serve either out of a sense of guilt or code of responsibility.
Then I began to watch this new pope.
I’ve always said if I did not love money, my wife, and my protestant theology, I would become a Jesuit priest…and as the only order to take a vow of obedience to the Pope, under current management, I’d be inclined. He is showing Christ’s seemingly contradictory statement: I need the poor.
At a recent F3 event, I was asked, “Why should we care about the sad-clown?” It struck me that the answer resides in this relationship. I care about the Sadclowns because I see in them the truth of who I am: I am the worst of all Sadclowns.
To be a Jesuit priest, the first stage is you have to undergo stringent exams of self-awareness. To truly know who you are gives you the freedom to see others. We discover that “I care about those in need, because I am the one truly in need.”
Too often places of power (educated, wealthy, American) look with pity at those in need and give–often very generously–to help the poor. It assuages either a sense of guilt or honors a moral code of responsibility. But it perpetuates an Us-Them divide.
Instead what if I viewed the materially poor as the very thing I am in need of?
This is what the Pope demonstrates well. The reason he is having them install showers in the public restrooms in the Vatican is not (only) out of a sense that poor people need to be clean, but more importantly because he wants to dine with them. He isn’t motivated to serve them only for their sake, but because a party was not complete without the attendance of the materially poor. An embodiment of Jesus’s Great Banquet parable (Luke 14), indeed.
Pope Francis’ chief alms-giver has announced new plans to install free showers in the public restrooms in Vatican City as a service to the homeless. Monsignor Konrad Krajewski explained that the new facilities in St. Peter’s Square were inspired by an encounter with a homeless man. The homeless gentleman declined Krajewski’s invitation to a fancy dinner on his 50th birthday because he said that he smelled bad, and there was no place for homeless individuals like him to wash.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/slices/pope-francis-having-showers-homeless-installed-vatican#0iEiQzY1ZGRAzBz5.99
This is why I find this Pope so startling: He is not serving poor out of a sense of charity, but a knowledge that if he does not then he will be the one who is poor. This is true servanthood, when the seemingly greatest realizes they are the least.
One thought on “A Pope in need is a Pope indeed”
Agony, You should check out Nate’s blog today about “knowing thyself” a la the Greeks. Ties in with the Jesuit’s self awareness.You can find it on his twitter account Hops