Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Year of Deeds

I usually cannot stand watching Adam Sandler films, but I did enjoy his "Mr. Deeds" movie. It's a retelling of an earlier film, "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," starring Gary Cooper. In the story, Deeds is a good, simple New England pizza deliverer who tries to get his greeting card poetry published. When his wealthy uncle dies, Deeds is left as the sole heir to a vast fortune. Not knowing what to do with all that money, and certainly not "sophisticated" enough to manage a billion-dollar corporation, Deeds goes to New York where the trustees of the company are jockeying to ensure their continued control over the company and their own wealth.

Deeds is unchanged by the money, and he comes across as a simple guy who just wants to to the right thing and take care of other people. It's a stark contrast to the money-grabbing investors who are trying to minimize his impact on the company. In the end, Deeds is able to help those same investors to remember what they loved most about life and what their dreams were when they first set out to become successful.

Here we are at the year mark of our good Pope Francis' papacy. In the last twelve months, we and the world have been getting to know a lovable man from Argentina whose heart for the poor and the marginalized has not change with ascendancy to the highest office in the Church. Francis has drawn many back to church and has renewed countless others in their love of the People of God. It seems as a new springtime has come to the Bark of Peter.

Yes, there are still those who are cautious about Francis' approach and motives. Liberals have cheered that they are finally being heard and heeded; conservatives are still pontificating about the "hermeneutic of continuity." However, those who truly pay attention to what Francis does (and not what we think he does or means) can still recognize the beautiful Bride of Christ that the Church is. Francis does not enjoy his "superhero" status - he has said so.  But, his simple style, friendly outlook, and overall openness to others - especially the poor - has had more than a few seeing the image of Christ reflected.

The pope is not a superhero. He is a man, like anyone else. He has dreams. He has faith. He has a very difficult vocation, but he is focused on the love of God that helps him to place all other things into perspective. The best honor that we could show him is to imitate that sense of God's love and care in our own lives. Imagine a world of Francis-es!

At the end of "Mr. Deeds," the simple New England town has their local pizza guy back - although he is ridiculously rich. Outside, everyone is driving red Corvettes. Pope Francis does not want us all driving sports cars, but we can all imitate him in his simplicity, care for the weak, and love of Christ.

Happy Anniversary, Holy Father!

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