Marxist. Pope Francis has been called that after shaking up the global capitalist system. But, the label is a misnomer. It doesn’t do the Catholic Church justice. The world, by assuming the Pope’s stand as espousing Marx’ ideals, appears to hold a mistaken view of Catholics (or, Christians for that matter), because, don’t they know, to be Catholic (or Christian) is to be revolutionary.
It appears that the world now has forgotten that Christ, upon whom Catholics (and Christians) base their culture and faith, and whose human life is accessible through Scriptures, is this world’s first and greatest revolutionary. And like most revolutionaries, that is, those who upset the status quo and offer unpopular alternatives, died in the hands of His enemies (although He didn’t refer to them as that but rather as “they who know not what they do”) and, for the King of Kings, a most embarrassing and gruesome way to leave the world.
Just recently, Christendom celebrated Christmas. The first Christmas has nothing to do with the bright lights, cheerful clothing, feasts, and mad desire to acquire of today. The Nativity Story tells of the most obscure and embarrassing manner for a God to be borne on a planet He created. The travel of a very pregnant (about to give birth!) Mary on a donkey (not even a horse!) hundreds of miles from her home to Bethlehem is in itself something to ponder on. But, it’s difficult to fully grasp the flood of emotions, thoughts, and physical discomfort experienced by this young woman who only recently then had committed herself to a man she had little knowledge of and in a peculiar arrangement too, which in today’s lingo is close to a ‘live-in’ relationship. And then the knocking on doors very late at night to inquire of a spare room, which I’m imagining caused the quiet and otherwise sufficient Joseph much embarrassment. But for the sake of The Child, he swallowed his pride. That was how The God-Child wanted to be born, so, fine. They were finally showed the “spare room”, the godawful stable. It was how the property owner, the inn keeper, saw them: a couple who looked like they can’t pay shit and strangers they are too therefore no hope in hell he’d be able to collect on interest if he were to offer them a credit line. And goodness the woman looks about to burst! So where to put insignificant people? With the animals. Thus was the circumstances of His birth. Compared to William’s and Kate’s little Prince George’s, a shameful way to be born.
The next we know of His life after that night is on his 30th when He reappeared in public to begin His ministry. What we know of the years in between is that they’re also spent in obscurity and most ordinarily, as the son of a carpenter. When He did come out, until His death, it was to shake things up, to which the established men exclaimed, who does this carpenter’s son think he is? The son of God indeed! How dare he tell us what to do? In today’s lingo, a pain in the ass, a thorn on the side, a difficult man, a very dangerous man. What to do with this sort? Off with his head! The sooner the better!
Catholics (and Christians) are revolutionaries, styled in Christ, for Christ. He knew the difficult road ahead hence the forewarning not to expect better treatment than what He received. It’s just that lately the majority of Catholics, including the clergy, have grown too comfortable with the status quo, and now are unlike the camel that has no difficulty passing through the eye of the needle. In earlier times, when persons of the faith were more seriously committed to bringing heaven on earth, there were an unprecedented number of martyrs and saints. Nowadays, many Catholics who find themselves in opportunities to witness for Christ would rather look and walk away.
It shouldn’t be a surprise therefore that the current head of Catholics, Pope Francis, takes the witness stand for the Gospel. Nor should he, or any Catholic for that matter, be labelled as Marxist, because it isn’t Karl Marx or communism that he’s witnessing for, rather it’s for Christ and Christianity. To be disciples or followers of Christ means to be witnesses of everything that the Leader stood for.
To take the witness stand is scary, more so now than then, because it calls Catholics to put on Christ’ patented radical perspective as the lens to take on an increasingly convenient and comfortable world; that there are consequences, past martyrs had been boiled and their heads chopped off which understandably would make even the bravest cringe, because, centuries after Christ, the rules of the game haven’t changed much. The leadership of Pope Francis which so far is taking the direction desired by the community is like a beacon of light to the doubting, disheartened, and fearful.