We are inspired. Inspired by someone who walks the talk, who practises what he preaches. This is simple stuff, but such a powerful example in this modern world – being REAL. So powerful in fact it has people all over the world transfixed. Pope Francis is counter-cultural, not wanting to amass money or power for himself but rather to use his global profile and influence to highlight the plight of the poor and marginalised who need to be at the forefront of our thinking, our ministries, and our lives.
In a way he’s untouchable. He can’t be bought with money, he can’t be bribed with flashy things, and no-one can sway him from following the gospel and calling the world to account. That freaks some people out. Powerful corporate interests that might stand to lose a lot if the world chose to share, if the world chooses to care. Francis and our Catholic social teaching ask that the economy works for all people, not just those at the top.
It amazes me what an impact one man who publically stands for the Gospel can have on the world. What would the world look like if everyone lived like this?
He holds the church to account. Where’s the money going? Are the Bishops serving their communities? Are we as laity putting the gospel into practice? Do we stand for justice? What are we doing about it?
We are Jonny and Mary-Grace, a married couple that lead a Catholic Young Adult community in Palmerston North, where young adults come and live in community for a year and make prayer, hospitality, formation and service a focus of our lives. This is a counter cultural thing to do for a married couple in their 30’s. I know some people don’t understand why we would willingly choose this lifestyle. Simply, it’s vocation. And in a small way we are doing what the Gospel asks of us, to share what we have, pool our resources, be in relationship and walk alongside others as we journey in our faith. So Pope Francis’ message gives us courage.
Maybe with Pope Francis’ strong voice in today’s world, to live a life like ours will become more acceptable. But there is a challenge to not be complacent. Yes we live in community and share our resources and our lives, but Jesus always calls us into the deep. There is always more to be done and I think it’s dangerous to think. ‘Well I’ve ticked that box’. I don’t think that’s how it works. God wants us to fulfil our potential, and we won’t get even half way there if you think you’ve got this faith thing all sewn up. Catholics are about the journey, the movement onwards and forwards to becoming who God calls you to be in every aspect of your life. The challenge we take from Pope Francis, which is the challenge of the Gospel, is to continue to strive to live the gospel in new and exciting ways. And be real.
Mary-Grace Willams & Jonny Boon lead Te Ahi Kaa, where they live in community with young adults in Palmerston North.