Maybe it’s me, but having two Popes praying for our collective future is comforting.
When I first looked at this picture, I wondered, what are they each thinking. With the future ahead of one and the past behind another, what are they praying for? No doubt; each other. No doubt; the church. No doubt; help. I can’t help but feel we are being given this moment for a reason. So, in wonder, I opened my beloved Bible and did what I liked to do, let the Word guide me. I opened, (and this is no lie), to Luke 5 or The Call of Simon the Fisherman. There before me it said, “Jesus saw two boats….”Of course we know the story of Jesus and Simon and the gathering of Fish that would be “fishers of men.” Jesus gets into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, where he asks Simon to put out the boat away from the shore….Jesus sits down and speaks to the crowd. Then he invites Simon to put his boat into deeper water, but Simon (and his men) have been working and are tired…they have been there and done that…there are no fish. But, “Okay Jesus” you can almost hear him say with an exasperated, perhaps irritated shrug, they follow Jesus’s instruction and a strange thing happens. Their nets fill so much so that “their nets were tearing”. This is when they needed to call in the other boat but then both boats “were in danger of sinking” (8) Instead of being happy about this, Simon Peter is horrified that he doubted Jesus and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Because Simon Peter doubted, he no longer considers himself worthy of being useful when in fact he becomes vital to the mission. His humility is what Jesus will work with. In my opinion, much like Benedict. The most meaningful thing that B16 did was done out of humility to the Word. “God told me to.” he said when asked why he decided to retire. “God told me to.” The same reason that Simon put out the net. That decision allowed us to move again. I can’t decide if the boats are the church…or the Popes…but….I identify with Simon Peter here a lot. Many times I don’t trust, don’t believe that everything will be ok, my anxieties about daily life get the better of me. I think our church can feel like that too. Stuck in the exhaustion of trying but not “catching any fish”…of being tired and when Jesus calls to us to try again, we get a little aggravated, “I have tried!” But what if, Jesus is just now sitting in the boat with us…I can’t help but wonder at what has changed before our eyes. Or what if, we have stopped thinking about it and we have started moving into deeper water?But wait, what were Jesus’s instructions? In other words what did he tell us that would build the kingdom? For Simon it was to throw your nets out…trust. Throwing our nets out means to for all of us it is to tend to the poor, the widows and the orphans. Not judging. Remembering God is for everyone and that Jesus came for us all (not the many). That the laws can be our undoing if the laws become more important than love. Because most importantly, we are to love God and Love our neighbor. Do not be afraid.Pope Francis seems foolishly unafraid, as if he is taking Jesus at his word. When he opts for the Jeep instead of the Pope-mobile…when he shows up at mass or at a hotel without fanfare. When he reaches out to all people of faith and conscience, he is showing that he knows that GOD knows what God is doing. There has been a lot of chatter and worry about something happening to him because he is so free with his time and so generous with his self but I think he is only remembering that God told him to not be afraid… to trust. I think he is trusting that the same God who placed him in this role will protect him as long as he needs to be in this role. I think, that the God who has placed him there has also spoken to many hearts like my own to hold him in a protective prayer.It is important to remember from the passage above that the boats were only in danger of sinking, they didn’t actually sink. Perhaps a metaphor for our modern church.There is hope.But, it took more that one boat to get all of the fish. Maybe it takes more than one Pope’s prayers to pull this church out of our own deep waters. Who knows.So here is Palm Sunday and Jesus goes to Jerusalem….I will see you there.