Picture from Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano
Sunday, March 24, 2013
My Other Lung
It is possible that, in your lifetime, the Church will again breathe with two lungs.
God speaks in figures, He teaches with realities. His lessons are Incarnational. Rather than have us grapple to reach him in His Invisibility, He came and walked among us. Then when He went back to His Father, He left us a physical representation of Himself. He left many priests, united in one, the Holy Father. Two hundred and sixty six times over the past two thousand years He has replaced that person with the physical representation of Himself on earth. The one that He will use to touch the world. Many of those men have been saints. Some have been anything but. However each one was used by God to touch us, to teach us. To teach us something specific.
We live in unprecedented times. We have photographs and videos of two Popes. Pope Francis, Christ's Vicar on Earth and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Christ's previous Vicar on Earth.
We need to look, to watch, to listen and to see.
Benedict XVI had a goal during his papacy that many have said he failed at: bringing the Eastern and Western Church back into communion. The Church has been "breathing with one lung" since 1054. Pope John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the Eastern Orthodox countries and Benedict continued that outreach making even greater strides in communion.
But there is even more to the story. As we found out the day he was elected, Pope Francis (the Pope with only one lung) was not only the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, but also the Bishop of the ordinariate for Eastern rite Catholics in Argentina. A few days after his election, for the first time ever, the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church attended the installation of a Pope. Pope Francis was able to meet with and welcome his brothers from the East.
Now, a week into his pontificate, Pope Francis travels to Castel Gondolfo to meet with his predecessor, Benedict.
His words to Benedict? "We are brothers."
At this meeting Francis presents Benedict with a gift saying, basically, 'it reminded me of you."
The gift? a beautiful icon called the Madonna of Humility. The ultimate Servant of God, the Blessed Mother, is one whom they both love. The Blessed Mother is the one whom Francis went to, humbly, on his knees, the day after his election.
Where did Francis get the Icon? The representatives of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church brought it to him several days ago.
This past Thursday, the Successor of Peter met Patriarch Bartholomew (considered the successor of the apostle Andrew) of the Greek Orthodox Church.
His words? "My brother Andrew."
God speaks to us in the Person of His Son (Heb.1-3), and His Son left His representative on Earth (Mt. 16:18). In the age of images, the 24 hour news cycle, God knows we are watching. And so does His Vicar.