Monday, November 11, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “Francis, Therese, and Being Who You Are”
November 11, 2013
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]
Pastorgraphs: “Francis, Therese, and Being Who You Are”
In the past week or so, there were two incidents that are most revealing about human nature.
The first occurred when Pope Francis was speaking before some church gathering when a small boy stepped to the podium, stood next to the Pope, and even hugged him. As you might imagine, the clerics (and probably his parents) were shocked that the boy would do such a thing. Their efforts to coax the lad away from the Pope and off the stage were unsuccessful. Not even a bribe of candy worked. The little boy finally sat in the Pope’s chair for the remainder of the ceremony.
Pope Francis seemed totally unfazed by the event, even reaching down as he spoke to rub the boy’s head in a loving way. A pastor friend of mine commented that this is the way church should be, with children being themselves. It called to mind a similar incident when children found their way to Jesus while he was teaching. The disciples tried to rustle the children away. But Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.
The second incident was when Pope Francis saw a man horribly disfigured by hundreds of growths over his body. Rather than being repulsed by the man’s appearance and condition, the Pope went to the man, and to the shock of some nearby, touched, blessed and kissed him. It called to mind how Jesus was not afraid to touch the lepers.
In a conversation about these two events, someone said the Pope was setting a good example or role model for Christians. I replied, “No, it is even better than that.” Because if it were simply a demonstration or lesson, it would be less than spontaneous. I believe the Pope did what he did because it is who he is! He didn’t have to think about it. He was not offended or threatened in either situation, unlike those around him. He responded in love to an innocent child and a disfigured man because, much like Christ, that is who he is on the inside.
In my book on Integrity, I state “Integrity is who you are”. Identifying this Pope as a person of integrity is an easy call for me. Integrity is more than what and how you think, or what you do, or even why you do it. It builds on all of those parts, but ultimately comes down to “who you are” at your most intimate being. It comes from conditioning your soul. Obviously, Pope Francis has conditioned his soul to live a humble life of love. There have been too many examples where he didn’t have to think, he just did what was natural, loving and right.
Today is Veterans Day. Often when a soldier receives a medal for valor, he or she replies, “I was just doing my job”. They were conditioned to do what a soldier should do. God bless all our servicemen and women for their service with duty, honor, courage and integrity.
TWENTHIETH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
Tomorrow (11-12-13) marks Anita and my Twentieth Anniversary. I will resist the temptation to say something like you would read on a Hallmark card. But I will tell you a short story, including something I learned about my wife just this week.
Anita’s legal name is Therese (with an ‘e’ – no ‘a’). She told me just this week that her mother, a fervent Catholic, named her for “Saint Therese of the Roses”. So I began to learn more about my wife’s namesake. What I found makes all this tie together.
Saint Therese (1873-1897) was a French nun who died at age 24, but left an impressive legacy upon the church. Ironically, she and Saint Francis of Assisi (for whom the current Pope is named) are identified as the two most popular saints of the church. Pope Pius X went so far as to call Therese “the greatest saint of modern times”. In 1997, Pope John Paul II named her the thirty-third “Doctor of the Church” and only the third woman so named. The current Pope Francis is a devotee to Saint Therese.
I will not take time or space to tell all her remarkable story, but encourage you read a brief biography. Wikipedia has an excellent short history of Therese’s life.
My wife Therese is like her namesake in that she works behind the scenes to help others so they may help even more. Saint Therese said her role was simply to pray for the priests and thereby help them help others. Saint Therese wanted to live a hidden life, and “wanted to be unknown”. Yet in her short and humble life, she became a shining example of a Christ-like life.
Never underestimate what one woman can do. My Therese and Saint Therese are alike in that they never sought to be out front, but realized the power of working faithfully out of the spotlight. Anita began over a year ago to do what an army of men would have found challenging. She resolved, working behind the scenes, tackling the task of renovating our huge 25,000 square foot church building which had fallen into embarrassing disrepair. In spite of her high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and a host of other ailments, she has taken one room at a time and painted, cleaned and repaired them so folks now say “Wow” when they come into our building.
I shouldn’t be surprised. I was pretty much broken down and in an embarrassing state of disrepair when we met in 1993. My Saint Therese kept working, silently and relentlessly, to whip me into shape. That, so if I do my job, I may be a blessing to others, who will bless even more.
She does it because it is who she is. I love you, Anita, for being who you are!
Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins, Pastor
From the Quote Garden:
“I understand how all the flowers God has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understand that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. So it is in the world of souls, Jesus' garden. He has created smaller ones and those must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God's glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.”
~ Saint Therese of the Roses ~
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
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