Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Popes Have a Motto!

Apparently all popes have a motto.  Who knew?

Pope Francis has chosen the words miserando atque eligendo--"having mercy on him and choosing him."

These words came from a sermon by an 8th C. English monk named Bede, who was describing Matthew, the tax collector chosen by Jesus to be one of his disciples.

Unlike most of the other disciples, who worked in fishing, Matthew was part of a hated group. 

Most tax collectors were cheaters--their income was gained by adding a percent onto the tax. When Jesus went to Matthew's house for a dinner, he got criticism: "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11).

Bede sees Jesus choosing a tax collector as an act of mercy and forgiveness toward Matthew.

It's an act of humility for Pope Francis to identify with Matthew in being a less-than-perfect human chosen by God.

So far so good, Pope Francis!

Perhaps Jesus knew Matthew had some useful skills--he could read and write, unlike most of the other disciples. 

Most critics of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope cite his involvement with Argentina's murderous dicators during the "Dirty War," 1976-83.  Like Matthew, his record may be less than perfect. 

But then again, precisely through his experience in navigating through evil, the new Pope Francis may have some skills that Jesus finds useful. 

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