Saturday, January 6, 2024

Follow the light. . .

According to reports, the Pope told his Vatican staff:

[It is] important to keep advancing and growing in their understanding of the truth. Fearfully sticking to rules may give the appearance of avoiding problems but only ends up hurting the service that the Vatican Curia is called to give the church, he said.

“Let us remain vigilant against rigid ideological positions that often, under the guise of good intentions, separate us from reality and prevent us from moving forward,” the pope said. “We are called instead to set out and journey, like the Magi, following the light that always desires to lead us on, at times along unexplored paths and new roads.”

Oddly enough, the Pope advocates following the light but he seems not to know where the light will lead.  In this respect, he is at a very different point than the Magi.  They knew what they were looking for.  They clearly asked at Bethlehem:  Where is the One who is born King of the Jews?  While they may not have been sure what city in which to find the Messiah, they knew who to ask forThe Magi may have been many things but the light was not some illumination without identity or purpose.  They had gifts for a king in their baggage and they followed the light that promised to lead them where the Christ was born.  They were not put off by seeing a baby but knelt before Him in worship.  That is the point the Pope seems to have missed.  He equates the journey of the magi as a path of illumination which cannot be predicted or planned.  That is not the path of the Magi.  It should no be the path of the faith or the faithful.

Unlike Luther who was captive to the Word of God, the Pope is acting like a petulant child.  He is always angry at someone and mostly at those who pay attention to the Scriptures and the faithful tradition and who seek to hold to it and pass it on to those to come.  According to the Pope, they are rigid ideologues but in reality he is the ideologue imposing upon Scripture his own opinions, preferences, and likes and passing them off as the light.  He seems to complain about anyone and everyone except those who ignore the voice of God's Word and depart from the sacred tradition once delivered to the faithful.  

The Pope worries about being separated from the reality of the world around us and the voice of culture and society.  Are we not called out to be distinct -- in but not of the world?  The Pope believes that holding to the sacred deposit will hinder us from moving forward.  Under whose idea of progress?  The Lord is our path and our goal and we have no future apart from that which is in Christ and to Christ.  How odd it is that the Christian world has come to the point where every time this man opens his mouth, we wince and cringe?  The liberals wince and complain that he has not really changed what they want changed and the conservatives wince and complain that he has turned the clarity of the Gospel into a sea of mud and confused the world even more over what the Gospel is and who Christ is.

If there was ever a time when Lutherans lamented the pitiful situation among us and longed for the safer confines of Rome, this Pope has exposed the weaknesses that make it impossible for this writer to consider dipping a toe into the Tiber and ought to give anyone pause.  We may long for a figure of a leader who may advance true Christianity and relieve us of our individual burdens as the faithful and faithful parishes.  The reality is that the Christian congregation around the Word and Sacraments administered by their pastor has always been an island in a turbulent sea of lies and falsehoods.  Rome will not save us but the Pope seems determined to do his best to sink the orthodox and catholic witness amid a sea of confusion created by his own words and works.  Neither will any of the other headquarters or structures we set up be the refuges or saviors we seek.  We cannot rely on our leaders or defer to them what belongs to us -- the faithful pastors and people of God who live and serve where we are.   We follow the LIGHT and it always leads to Christ.  The Pope seems to have forgotten this and liberal Christianity refuses to acknowledge it but we dare never forget it.

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