The world’s press has been in a fever over the appointment of the new pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio! Who is he? What are his credentials? What does he believe? He is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. He has impressed already with his humility, lack of pomp, and desire to mix freely with people. His initial messages have emphasised encountering Jesus, rejecting worldliness, and showing God’s mercy. More importantly, Pope Francis seems eminently comfortable in his own skin and, even aged 76, at peace with this calling to lead the worldwide Catholic community.
There is an inestimable value in knowing who and whose you are. People with such inner confidence have much to add to the world around because they are not responding to others from any lack of worth or insecurity.
Jesus embodied this for, even at his baptism, He knew that he was the Beloved Son in whom the Father was very pleased (Mark 1v11). His sense of identity and mission was tested in the wilderness (v13) and yet He came through with a clear message for his generation – ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and believe the good news’ (v15).
If I am to have a voice which speaks into the needs of my peers, community or nation, then my foundation has to be in the love and acceptance of my Heavenly Father. From that place of holy intimacy I have neither to please or fear people who might want to influence me. That, of course, is tested in the crucible of temptation and difficulty. As we come through that refining journey, it is from within that sense of knowing ‘whose’ I am that I find contentment in ‘who’ I am. My unique gifts, life story, passions and context for ministry, are being shaped by God to help others know that the kingdom of heaven is at hand for them.
I can’t do everything, but I can do something. So can you. You and I play our little part (and the pope plays his unique part) in the big story of God reconciling the world to Himself and calling all to embrace His loving rule.
How content and confident are we in our identity and ministry?