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"God loves to disturb our comfort zone" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com) Zebra48bo [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]According to Pope Francis, God loves to shake us out of our comfort zone. The Father has always used people to disturb the comfortable and to challenge others to live authentic, radical lives in and through His Spirit. Because we really do not like to change, we end up resisting even God. We like our comfort zone. We especially don’t like those who remind us of our shortcomings. Yet, the Holy Spirit is not stagnant. He is not the God of the past, but God of the present, alive, a dynamic powerhouse seeking to heal, transform and draw us ever closer to His heart. Back in May 2013, the pope called our resistance to change “being stubborn; this is called wanting to tame the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming fools and slow of heart.” Preaching on St. Stephen’s words before his martyrdom, Pope Francis addressed those who resist, twist, or ignore the impetus of the Second Vatican Council, which he described as “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” He applied St. Stephen’s words to those who resist change, “You stiff-necked people…you always resist the Holy Spirit.” Again, on the road to Emmaus, it was Christ who lamented, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”   The followers of Christ are slow to grasp and respond to the will of God, we fail to trust Christ completely, we do not wish to be moved by the Holy Spirit in new and surprising ways. I am baffled by all the negative reactions to Pope Francis. Personally, I think that Pope Francis is just too joyful as he lives out his simple, his down-to-earth spirituality and humble solidarity with the poor and this irritates many traditionalists. Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi also irritated the Pharisees of their eras; those pure proponents of tradition dislike anyone who challenges their lifestyle. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Catholic wisdom of the people … provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life. (CCC 1676) The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole. (CCC 1877)
It seems to me that Pope Francis was appointed by God to remind the Church to come back to the basics, to our foundation in Christ. The pope desires to bring us into a balance in our spiritual life. Our first love, our focus, is to allow God to love us, love Him in return, and treat others with the same mercy and forgiveness as we receive from Christ. Rather than attacking Pope Francis, we should all ask ourselves, why so many of us are reacting to this pope. Perhaps Pope Francis is convicting us of our own shortcomings. Rather than taking the log out of our own eyes, we are searching for a speck of dust in the pope’s eyes. Yet here is a man who lives simply and joyfully, a man who lives out the Gospel in real tangible ways. Lord, forgive our arrogance and our presumption that sets us up as judges. Turn our eyes to you, oh God and have mercy on us.
Copyright 2019 Melanie Jean Juneau