Good morning all! You made it through Monday!
Today’s scripture: Hebrews 11:32-40 (NRSV)
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Have you seen this article this week about the Pope?
If you haven’t, take a moment to read now.
Have you read it?
Yeah, the Pope is sneaking out at night to go hang with the homeless! How incredible is that? And why is he doing that? He dresses as a “regular priest” and roams about and possibly feeding people. This is not surprising since it turns out that he did this when he was a cardinal. He loved to do it.
Again, why is the Pope doing this?
I think the answer might be right in front of our faces…in times such as these, how could he not? My bet? I am guessing that he feels compelled to do so. He is in ministry. He seems to love people. He seems to respect people. And he knows looking like this….
Might just set him apart and create a power differential.
And besides it is right there in front of us, isn’t it? Our history of faith through our heroes to be with the people? The author of Hebrews certainly seems to think so. In fact, the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews is all about our history of faithful heroes of the bible. And those heroes were people who risked what the world saw as important for God’s people in unlikely and crazy ways. You see, Hebrews is a sermon to a new set of Christ believers. They are being persecuted and they are wondering what this is all about. They are wavering in their faith and I can’t really blame them. I tend to waver all of the time. There are so many things happening out in the world that make me question God over and over and over again. So Hebrews is written for people like me who need that boost every once in a while to remember a history of faith and that it is carried by people just like you and me. The good news comes in that God uses those ordinary people to reclaim a word of hope, justice in the world, and most importantly relationship with each other and God over and over and over again.
So of course, the Pope would see this and just have to be out in the world. If he is a man of God, part of this history of faith that Hebrews talks about, he HAS to be out with people. He is compelled to be there. And I thank God for this.
During the Advent season, we are reminded that God uses human beings to do God’s work. God uses the most vulnerable to reclaim the Gospel (the Good News). God shows up in the form of the most surprising kind of being…a baby. God shows up to create relationship, to eat with the poor, stand with the marginalized, and just be with the ordinary and the extraordinary dressed in “regular” clothes.
May we strive to do so also this season.