The Pope is cool but Jesus is way cooler
I am one with the nation in anticipating the arrival of Pope Francis. I have been following the media, which is abuzz with features on the life of the Pope, where he will go, what he will do. I have been seeing posters, pictures, and images of the pontiff everywhere.
I am one in the revelry and with everyone, eager to see this one-of-a-kind Pope. I think he is, after all, the coolest Pope ever and one whose coolness the Church must aspire to have. I am a huge fan!
I feel, however, that something is quite not right. There is something off. There is something, or rather, someone, markedly missing.
Jesus. Jesus is missing.
We have the Pope but where is Jesus?
I ask, where is Jesus in all this? Why isn’t the name of Jesus openly highlighted when He is the one the Pope is representing? Why is the person of the Pope, not the person of Jesus, getting the most attention?
Vicar of Christ, but still just a vicar
The Pope, no matter how important he is, is just the Pope. He is just the representative of Jesus. The focus then should not be on him who is the messenger, but on the message and the source of the message – Jesus!
To be fair to the Pope, he said, as echoed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle: “I should not be the focus. Jesus should be the focus.”
And I believe the Pope’s sincerity in asking this. For not once did he say this but many times. The most explicit of which was in one of his general audiences in the Vatican in 2013, when he said: “I would like now to make a small complaint, but in a brotherly way, just between ourselves. All of you in the square shouted, 'Francis, Francis, Pope Francis.' But where was Jesus? I should have preferred to hear you cry: 'Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst!'”
The phenomenon of focusing more on the Pope as opposed to Jesus can be explained by our natural tendency to look for an intermediary or padrino, which sadly, is emphasized in our politics and religion.
In politics we see the patronage system when we rely on someone to get things done. We look for a friend of the mayor to have contracts approved or papers expedited. Politicians ally themselves with the powers that be in hopes that they will help them rise in power.
In religion, with due respect to the Catholic Church (I may not explain doctrine exhaustively here), there is a significant emphasis on intercessors – on saints who can pray for us, on people who can help us go to God, when we can in fact go straight to God.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. People we ask to intercede for us – the Pope included – should however help us see God, not impede, delay, and block our view of and access to God. More importantly, these models of faith shouldn't be the ones whom we should place our faith on. No matter how great they are, they should not take the place of God in our lives.
Unfortunately and because it is unchecked, this is precisely what happens – we give the most focus to the one who is not the most important. In a manner of speaking, we “major in the minor.”
'Enough of 'Francis,' just 'Jesus''
These words, again, came from the Pope himself. And this is fitting reminder for us – the clergy, the organizers, the media, and the lay faithful, as we prepare of his arrival.
Concretely, how may we do this?
Aside from having posters and banners, which say “Viva Il Papa,” it would be great to see ones that carry messages such as “Jesus Lives” or “It’s All About Jesus” at the Quirino Grandstand and the University of Santo Tomas.
In addition to showing documentaries and stories about the Pope and his impact on people’s lives, it will be more inspiring to feature how the lives of the Pope and other people have been changed by Jesus.
And, apart from asking people “Why do you like the Pope?” it would be more moving to hear them answer “Why are you proud of your faith and of Jesus, your Savior?”
My hope and prayer is that we do not lose focus in this important visit of the Pope. His visit is a great time to renew our faith by purifying it from fanaticism, misplaced priorities, and lack of focus.
We love our Pope. As I said, he is a cool Pope. It’s just that Jesus is way cooler. – Rappler.com
Jervis Bautista (not his real name), 26, comes from a Catholic family in the Visayas. He lives in Manila and has been exposed to Evangelical Christianity since 2004. He uses a pseudonym to protect his family and friends from religious scrutiny, and believes that faith and spirituality is a journey with the Holy Spirit. He is excited about where he would be led by the Spirit.