Pope Francis chose to honor St. Francis of Assisi by his choice of name, but it has become clear that His Holiness didn't just want to pay homage to the humble saint; he wants the faithful to emulate him.
Everyone wants peace, Francis, but they do not know the source of this peace. You must teach them. Real peace comes only from a peaceful heart! And a peaceful heart comes from finding so much God inside that there is no room for anything else but peace.
Just as God's Spirit surprised Saint Peter by leading him to the Gentiles and showing him that they too can be God's people, so too perhaps God's Spirit is gently nudging Pope Francis, the Catholic Church and indeed all of us to be similarly surprised by the Other.
Though I'm not a Catholic, I'm always genuinely inspired by followers of Christ who try to live lives of true humility and true right-sizedness. I hope, for both the sake of his church and the church universal, that Pope Francis lives into the name he has chosen for himself.
The key to achieving the reform so desperately needed by both Catholic and Protestant churches was right under Pope Francis' nose the moment he stepped out on the Vatican balcony. Clues can be found in a cloud of pink smoke and in the legacy of his patron saint, Francis of Assisi.
In my reading this week I came across a fascinating story about St. Francis that speaks deeply to that last commitment to work toward the repair of an ailing church. This story is a challenge for us all.
St. Francis' whole program of the "Gospel Life," was about the renunciation of power that placed barriers between him and others, him and God, and him and the rest of creation. Pope Francis seems to understand the significance of his name.
St. Francis, like no one before or since, captured the essence of what it meant to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded and St. Francis, more than any other human being, attempted to fulfill his simple yet unachievable demand.
When the now familiar face of the Cardinal from Buenos Aires appeared I found myself shouting at the screen: "who is that?" And soon we knew: Pope Francis, potentially the most transformative pope the church has seen in 50 years.
Pope Francis could use the choice of his name to recall the message of St. Francis' teaching on the holiness of self-chosen poverty, not just for individuals but especially for the church which claims to represent the message of Jesus himself.
Saint Francis and Sultan al Malik found something special from God in each other that changed their worlds for the better. In their memory, I wish Pope Francis all the best, and all the blessings God can give him in his life and his service.
It feels once again that a pope is about to let fresh air run through every aspect of the Church. He may transform its grinding politics, financial imbroglios and leadership vacuum. He has the ability to deal directly with the serious sins of the recent past and clean house. Let the wind blow!
Because we are still near the beginning of a new calendar year, it's not a bad thing to listen to Francis' wisdom and consider the ways in which we might better live out our Christian lives in a spirit of humility.
Our over-familiarity with the nativity story can make us just as blind to the inherent meaning it contains. The result is often nativity scenes that bear little resemblance to the powerful events they attempt to represent.