Where were you when you first heard the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation?
I was making breakfast, juggling lunches, and trying to get my morning rolling when I received a text from a family member. She was alerting me and ended the note mentioning that she would be praying for the Catholic Church. Though she’s not Catholic, I could tell she was very touched by the news, and I was very grateful to have the heads-up first thing that morning.
I’ve noticed, in the brief week since Pope Benedict bravely declared his retirement, that some of the people who seem most upset and moved by this news aren’t active members of the Catholic Church. At first, that made me frown. “What right is it of theirs to criticize Papa?” I wondered. “They don’t even love him!” I all but thought “he’s not theirs” before I caught myself.
Isn’t his ministry to the whole world? Isn’t his mission beyond the walls of the Catholic Church? Isn’t his love intended for all?
Some of the people (a few of them family members) have said cruel and horrible things about Pope Benedict since the news hit. There has been shock and anger in the mainstream media, cheers that now there will be a modernization of the Church, and much more.
There’s no denying that the pope holds wide influence. People are going to be talking about this for quite a while.
And here you go, Catholics. Here is your chance.
When that coworker asks you about the pope quitting, you have an opportunity to share your faith in a way that’s personal and intimate. When that friend snidely comments about his involvement in the child abuse scandals, you can bare your heart and correct their misperception. When your family member calls him a Nazi Jew-hater and says they’re glad he’s dying, you can grin and pray before you answer.
Transform this moment into one that plants seeds. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your reaction, to hold you as you pray, to lead you as you interact.
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Reinhard
Photo by Fabio Pozzebom/ABr (Agência Brasil ) [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons