As any Christian will tell you call scripture is useful for instruction but todays second reading at Mass last Sunday is not only excellent instruction but very enlightening in terms of understanding our current pope:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.’
1 Cor 9 16-19, 22-23
To those christians in general & Catholics in particular who have not been pleased with the pontificate of Francis I this package really explains what is going on.
The primary job of any pontiff is to help lead the flock but to a Pope his flock is not just the Catholic Church but the entire world, for as Christ commanded:
Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.“
Like Paul Francis is being all thing to all people, and because of this he, while not changing the doctrine of the church, is attracting many people who have either fallen away or have never given Christ, the actual Christ rather than the pseudo Christ of the media a first look.
I’m sure many conservatives like myself will look at this and remark that the foes of the church will simply use Francis’ ways to attack the church, but such people would be attacking us anyways. Others will say that while some will jump on board while it’s fashionable at this time they will just as quickly fall away, that’s also true, after all Christ said that very thing in the parable of the sower and the seed.
But there will be a fair share who, having found the world & its culture full of empty promises who will come forward and through prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, find themselves taking advantage of the incredible and unmeasurable mercy of Christ.
I suspect very few of them will be those you read about, the big faces, the beautiful people, those who have been the loudest in railing against all the church is, but the job of Christianity isn’t popularity, in fact we are told we shall not be, the job is to, as Paul put it “save at least some”.
Every single person is worthy of the mercy of God, from the cloistered monk who prays all day to the ISIS murder of burns people alive. Christ is willing to forgive and welcome those two and everyone in between if only they ask sincerely.
And just like Benedict’s methods were effective with some but not others, if Francis methods succeed in saving some of those lost, that’s exactly what he’s there for.
After all the Holy Spirit doesn’t play at dice
One final thing, sharp eyed biblical scholars might have noticed that today’s reading left out two verses that come right before “To the weak…”. They are as follows:
To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law – though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ – to win over those outside the law.
While in a historical context this reinforces the point Paul is making (after all he often preached in synagogues throughout the Roman world, in terms of our modern times their relevance is limited. You don’t see a lot of Catholic priests preaching Jewish congregations and even fewer of said congregations are orthodox, that is living under the law.
I suspect that why it’s left out, after all mass runs 45 min to an hour to start with.