How Pope Francis is like Jesus and _______ are like Scribes

Jason Micheli —  September 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

“They went to Capernaum; and immediately when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.” – Mark 1

Mark likes to construct his episodes with eiselthon (entered) at the beginning and exelthontes at the end (‘departed’, but which also has the connotation: ‘deconstructed’).

In other words, Mark likes to show Jesus entering a space, sacred spaces usually, and leaving the assumed status quo in tatters.

Here, its a worship service Jesus ruins.

Pope Francis has proven himself to be similarly disruptive to the purity politics of the Church and deconstructive of the conventional ways the scribes of his own tradition have responded to questions about gay men and women, a caste of people- it should be noted- that are our own 21st century version of the man with the unclean spirit.

This is has First Things summarizes Francis’ Jesus-like deconstructions:

If Francis isn’t urging silence on moral issues, what’s his point? Francis is a man who think in terms of particular cases and vivid images. In the words of Father Spadaros, his spirituality “is not made of “harmonized energies,” as he would call them, but of human faces.” It’s helpful, then, to look at the one concrete example he offers of engaging on a difficult moral question:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

The Pope’s approach is one familiar to any reader of the gospels. Pharisees try to discredit the gospel by trapping its teacher; the teacher refuses the terms of their question and raises the spiritual stakes. The point here is not to compromise on or back away from truth, but rather to reject its caricature. This is good practical guidance. If it’s what he meant in his broader remarks, then those remarks offer wise advice well worth taking.


Jason Micheli


One response to How Pope Francis is like Jesus and _______ are like Scribes

  1. Beautifully said.

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