For his first trip abroad as pontiff, Pope Francis left behind his armored Popemobile to visit a nation already witness to record riots. On day one, authorities found and defused a bomb hidden in a shrine on his itinerary, as reported by NBC News. (Which claims that Brazilian Catholics gather there to worship a clay statue. Get it right, NBC. We don’t worship statues. We worship bread.) When crowds mobbed his downmarket, let’s say, “Popecart,” as it sat in traffic, he just smiled, waved, and kissed a few babies. On the Chuck Norris scale of bravery, this 76-year-old warrants a solid “Chuck Norris.”
So I ask my fellow believers (I already know what the rest of you will say): What is the line between bravery and foolhardiness? Between Christian and crazy? Is there a line?
We’ve gotten used to Christianity—so much so, that I wonder if we haven’t domesticated it, leached out the vital essence that drove the Romans to persecution and the disciples to martyrdom. Here’s my evidence:
Jesus told us to love our enemies—but we go to war to defend our Christian principles.
Jesus told us to sell all we own and give the money to the poor—but we’re sure he didn’t really mean that. Ten percent is probably fine. Or 2 percent. Or maybe something if we have anything left over after we pay that outrageous cable bill.
Jesus told us to let the dead bury their own dead—but, well, that probably was actually a metaphor. I’m guessing he had a grasp of germ theory long before it was mainstream.
So is Pope Francis being imprudent, risking his life, showboating his faith in providence? Or is he simply reminding us what our Church teaches? And, if so, should we be alarmed that it seems so strange to us?
I admit, this guy makes me question my faith—not whether my faith has any value, just whether I’ve ever had anything that could really be called faith.
Photo courtesy of Christophe Schmid, photoxpress.com