The Holy Father is the Vicar of Christ, and every faithful pope in his own way, through his own personality and charism will reveal an aspect of Christ to the world.
In saying this, I should add that this is also the calling of every priest who is called to be perfectly conformed to the image of Christ and lest we let the laypeople off the hook, it is also the calling of each of the baptized to become “little Christs” and through the joys and sorrows of life to be conformed not to the world, but to Christ himself.
I’ll be honest. Because of my personality type and history, Benedict XVI is my favorite pope. I’ve had to learn to love Pope Francis, but when I see his ministry I am seeing Jesus in these ten ways.
- He’s joyful – I think Jesus would have evidenced the same joy when he was surrounded with people as we see in Pope Francis. The joy is a sign of the Holy Spirit, and that joy itself is a positive light in the darkness of criticism, fear, cynicism, atheism, heresy and legalism.
- He loves the poor – The pope’s constant reminders about our need to care for the poor and that the poor in Spirit are blessed is a pointer to Jesus. This was his message and this was his work.
- He battles Satan – Pope Francis has spoken about the reality of Satan a lot. Maybe even more than Pope John Paul II and certainly more often and more explicitly than Pope Benedict. He is aware of the spiritual battle and does not shy away from calling out Satan
- He reaches out – Jesus was out and about. He was with people, blessing, teaching, delivering, healing and showing God’s love. I can see that radiating from Francis when he’s at work
- He calls out the hypocrites and legalists Jesus battled the legalism, hatred and suspicion of the Scribes, Pharisees and religious leaders. Francis is not shy about doing the same. Whether it is suspected corruption in the curia, arch conservative critics or secular modernists, he spots them and confronts them.
- He’s prayerful It is a joy to watch him celebrate Mass. He always does so reverently, carefully and simply. I think Jesus’ prayer life must have been like that: natural, authentic and simple.
- He welcomes all Here’s a pope who has reached out to the Levebvrists and the atheists, the Evangelicals and the Anglicans, the Charismatics and the Eastern Orthodox. Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt he wants to welcome all who will be welcomed, who will hear the gospel of repentance and mercy.
- He’s a Man of Mercy – I understand the Divine Mercy through Francis’ ministry. I see how it works and I want to be more active as a Missionary of Mercy.
- He’s a Surprise Francis’ ministry and mission defies the categories we would make for him. He breaks our boxes from the inside out. Jesus does this too He’s a God of Surprises who delights and demands, who cradles and criticizes, who turns over tables and calls us to the table.
- He’s Determined and Dynamic Jesus went through life like a hot knife through butter. He was not encumbered. Francis is like that. He’s got nothing to lose. He’s 100% for Jesus and Mary. He’s energetic, determined and he works hard. I want to be like that. Relentless. When he goes I think it will be in a big burst instead of a slow burn.